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Israel approves law to expand racial segregation

July 26, 2023 at 2:04 pm

A view of Knesset (parliament) as people, oppose the judicial overhaul plan of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, stage a protest and march in Jerusalem [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

The Israeli Knesset yesterday approved the expansion of the discriminatory Admissions Committees Law and allow more Jewish-only communities to screen applicants and reject those they deem unsuitable. A private bill to expand racial segregation in Israel through the discriminatory committees was put forward last month.

Introduced in 2011, “Admission Committees” operate in hundreds of small community towns built on state land in the Naqab (Negev) and Galilee. The law grants the committees almost full discretion to accept or reject individuals from living in towns under their control. 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.

The original law granting powers to Admission Committees was passed in order to circumvent Supreme Court rulings that banned Israeli communities from the racist practice of selling land to Jews only. It applied only to communities of up to 400 families, and only in the Negev and Galilee.

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The discriminatory legal provision was approved by the Israeli Knesset by a 42-11 majority vote. The approval removes restrictions on the number of towns that are allowed to have “Admissions Committees”. The new law’s geographical scope will extend beyond the Naqab and Galilee to include all towns designated as National Priority Areas (NPAs). It will also apply to communities of between 400 and 700 families.

Finally, the law states that five years after it takes effect, the economy minister will be able to expand it to communities of more than 700 families.

The legal centre, Adalah, noted that the bill’s initiators and supporters made their declared racist purpose unmistakably clear during Knesset discussions and in the coalition agreements. Knesset members even invited a representative from the Shin Bet (“Shabak”) to participate in the discussions. The Israeli official emphasised the security significance of expanding Israeli Jewish-only settlement in the Galilee.

No one is trying to conceal the racist purpose of the law, which aims to continue and promote the values anchored in the Jewish Nation State Law, to establish and expand Jewish settlements.

said Adalah. “At every stage of the legislative process, including by presenting opinions of Shin Bet personnel, Knesset members emphasized their intention to promote the same nationalist values. By using the term ‘communal,’ they mean racial segregation and an apartheid policy against Palestinian citizens in Israel. Therefore, Adalah will file a petition to the Supreme Court against this law.”

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.

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