HAIFA, Wednesday, June 7, 2023 (WAFA0 - On 4 June, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation decided to support a proposed bill to expand the applicability of the Admissions Committees Law to community towns of up to 1,000 households and to communities located in additional areas, and to expand its applicability to settlements in the Occupied West Bank.
On 1 June, ahead of the committee discussion Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, sent a letter to the Israeli Attorney General and the Members of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, urging them not to approve the proposed law under discussion and to take action to prevent its legislation.
Currently, the law allows Admissions Committees to select applicants for housing units and plots of land in hundreds of Israeli Jewish communities of up to 400 households in the Galilee and Naqab with almost complete discretion. The law allows the Admissions Committees to accept or reject applicants in communities based on arbitrary and discriminatory criteria of applicants’ “social suitability” to the “social and cultural fabric” of a community.
The proposed bill is intended to expand the applicability of this Admissions Committees Law to community towns of up to 1000 households and to communities located in additional areas, and to expand its applicability to settlements in the occupied West Bank. Simultaneously, a similar proposal from the 24th Knesset, which sought to extend the law's application to communities with up to 700 households, is currently being prepared for the second and third readings.
The approval of this proposed law is a commitment of the new government in the coalition agreement with the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party. It is part of a series of measures, including structural changes to the executive authority and racially discriminatory legislative initiatives, designed to promote Jewish hegemony and further entrench racial segregation. The proposal also aligns with the coalition agreements' plans for de facto annexation of the occupied territories, aiming to override international law norms and impose Israeli law on the West Bank in land management and development.
Additionally, Adalah argued that expanding the law's applicability to the West Bank constitutes annexation of occupied territories. The proposed bill seeks to replace norms of international humanitarian law and instead apply Israeli law to the Occupied West Bank in the field of land management, contrary to Supreme Court judgments and international law.
In the letter, Adalah cited the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing concerning the right to non-discrimination published in October 2021. In his report, the Special Rapporteur expressed concern about the effects of discrimination – such as by the Admissions Committees Law - in housing faced by Palestinian citizens of Israel and by Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory resulting in “direct and indirect segregation”.
In the letter, Suhad Bishara, Adalah's Legal Director, argued that although the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the petition against the law filed by Adalah in 2011, the judgment was based on the ripeness doctrine in Israeli constitutional law – that the case was premature for decision - rather than on the merits of the arguments. Thus, the law, as it currently stands, is still subject to constitutional review, especially that four justices of the Court ruled that the 2011 amendment to the law is, fully or partially, unconstitutional due to its disproportionate violation of the right to equality.
“The Admissions Committees Law currently serves to regulate a mechanism of racial segregation, and it is intended to implement the value of Jewish settlement which the Jewish Nation State Law intends to constitutionally enshrine. The intention to expand the law's scope was explicitly stated in the guiding principles and coalition agreements of the Government, as part of its declared policy to deepen racial discrimination and segregation. This leaves no room for doubt regarding the bill's underlying racist objective. The government has further committed to de facto annexing the occupied Palestinian territories by applying Israeli law. This reinforces the notion that racial-based values take precedence over human rights and international law principles.”