Dozens of Israeli communities are using 'admissions committees' to filter potential residents, in violation of the law.
According to legal rights centre Adalah, the "committees in Israeli Jewish towns can reject potential residents based on 'social suitability', essentially enforcing de facto housing segregation between Jewish and Arab citizens".
The role of admissions committees is actually authorised by law for communities of up to 400 households, but a recent Knesset report revealed that at least 24 communities in the Galilee and Negev regions are operating the committees despite having grown larger than 400 households.
Writing to Israeli officials, Adalah "emphasised its principled and resolute opposition to the existence of admissions committees – in general – as a mechanism of discrimination and humiliation".
However, the organisation continued, "as long as this discriminatory mechanism continues to operate, its terms must be guaranteed", and the Knesset report "clearly reveals that the authorities in these 24 communities are acting without authority and in violation of the rule of law".
Adalah urged officials to "order the 24 communities specified in the Knesset research to immediately shut down their admissions committees", and "refrain from allocating any land in these communities until it is ensured that they are not operating admissions committees on an illegal basis".
"The purported 'social and cultural fabric' of these 24 communities is nothing more than a fiction designed to blur the main purpose of the admissions committee: the legalized implementation of racist segregation", said Attorney Myssana Morany, coordinator of Adalah's Land and Planning Rights Unit.
"The creation of communities off limits to Arab citizens is part of a comprehensive policy aimed at reducing the living space of Arab citizens in general and Judaizing the Galilee and the Naqab (Negev) in particular", she continued.
"Even worse, it has now been revealed that Israeli authorities are actually operating these discriminatory committees in violation of Israeli law".