Israel approved a private bill yesterday to expand its discriminatory Admission Committees, triggering a backlash from rights groups who have warned that it will further entrench racial segregation. The goal of the legislation, said a report in the Jerusalem Post, is to decentralise the population and strengthen the periphery by giving residents the means of maintaining their communal and rural ways of life.
Introduced in 2011, Admissions Committees Law legalises “Admission Committees” that operate in hundreds of small community towns built on state land in the Naqab (Negev) and Galilee. The law gives Admission Committees, bodies that select applicants for housing units and plots of land, almost full discretion to accept or reject individuals from living in these towns. The committees include a representative from the Jewish Agency or the World Zionist Organisation, quasi-governmental entities. In practice, they filter out Arab Palestinian applicants and others from marginalised groups.
The amendment to the 2011 law would expand the applicability of the legislation from townships with 400 households to those with up to 1,000 households.
Human right organisations have slammed the move as racist and undemocratic. The bill is part of a series of measures to implement “racial segregation” and promote the annexation of the occupied West Bank, Adalah – the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel is reported saying in the Post.
“The Acceptance Committee Law is already used to regulate a mechanism of racial segregation and is intended to implement the value of Jewish settlement that the Nation State Law enshrines as a supreme principle,” Adalah’s Dr Suhad Bashara is reported saying in a statement. “The government’s documents openly reveal that the deepening of racism is now Israel’s official policy, and that it wishes to act to annex the occupied territories by applying the law.”
Denouncing the move, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said: “In a democratic country, every citizen has the right to live wherever they want, as part of human dignity, and subjecting this right to an invasive and prying selection process requires thorough justification.”
Last week, prior to the Israeli cabinet’s decision to expand Appointment Committees, Justice Minister Yariv Levin explained that installing judges who understand Jews “don’t want to live with Arabs”, is one of the reasons for the controversial judicial overhaul.
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 was reported saying while speaking at a cabinet meeting last week. “We need to ensure that there are judges in the Supreme Court who understand this,” he added.