Creating new perspectives since 2009

Judicial overhaul is needed to facilitate racial segregation, says Israel Minister

May 31, 2023 at 1:20 pm

Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin in Jerusalem on March 5, 2023 [GIL COHEN-MAGEN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Maintaining racial segregation between Jews and Arabs was cited by Israel’s Justice Minister, Yariv Levin, as one of the reasons why the far-right government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is pushing for the controversial judicial overhaul.

Judges must understand that Jews “don’t want to live with Arabs”, Levin is reported saying in the Haaretz. The Israeli minister made the remarks while defending plans to give the government control over the appointment of judges. This week, the cabinet is set to decide on its bill on the composition of the Judicial Appointments Committee.

Under the government’s current proposal, the Committee would include three ministers and three coalition lawmakers in an expanded 11-person panel. The proposal will guarantee an in-built majority for the government in selecting judges, an outcome which completely ignores the demands of thousands of protestors who have warned that the overhaul will be the death knell for Israeli democracy. With six million non-Jews unable to enjoy equal rights in territory controlled by Israel over many decades, rights group question the occupation state’s claim to democracy, to begin with.

Netanyahu and his judicial reform plans – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Levin urged lawmakers to make it easier for Israeli society to practice racial discrimination by expanding the country’s controversial Admissions Committee. “Arabs buy apartments in Jewish communities in the Galilee and this is causing Jews to leave these areas because they don’t want to live with Arabs,” Levin is reported saying while speaking at a cabinet meeting on Monday.  “We need to ensure that there are judges in the Supreme Court who understand this,” he added.

So called “admission committees” are permitted to operate in hundreds of small community towns built on state land, and are primarily implemented in Al Naqab (Negev) and the Galilee regions. Previously, Admissions Committees were restricted to communities of 400 households or less. The current far-right government is seeking to expand the number to 1000.

Admission Committees are granted license to reject residency applications of individuals on the grounds that they do not meet the vague and undefined “social suitability criteria”, or on the basis that said individuals may “damage the socio-cultural fabric” of the towns in question. Rights group say that the law is nothing more than legally sanctioned discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, as it allows for the rejecting of residency applications for certain towns on the sole basis of their ethnicity. Moreover, the law is applied overwhelmingly in certain regions in Israel, such as the Negev, where Palestinians are a majority.

READ: Tens of thousands protest against planned Israeli judicial overhaul