Adalah / June 26, 2019
Committees in Israeli Jewish towns can reject potential residents based on ‘social suitability’, essentially enforcing de facto housing segregation between Jewish and Arab citizens.
“Admissions committees” in dozens of Israeli Jewish communities across the country are operating in severe violation of the Admissions Committees Law and Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel demands that the admissions committees in these communities stop their work and be prohibited from receiving state lands.
Admissions committees in communities of up to 400 households are authorized by Israeli law to reject applicants for residency residents based on the criteria of “social suitability” and the “social and cultural fabric” of the town.
This allows a de facto situation in which these committees reject interested residents who are Palestinian citizens of Israel – as well as other marginalized groups – solely on the basis of their race, ethnicity, religion, or other identity. The mechanism allows the effective implementation of housing segregation between Arab and Jewish citizens.
Research conducted by the Knesset Research and Information Center reveals serious violations of the Admissions Committees Law: at least 24 communities in the Galilee and Naqab (Negev) regions of the country continue to operate admissions committees despite having grown larger than 400 households.
On 14 June 2019, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent a letterto the Israeli attorney general, the Israel Land Authority, the Construction and Housing Ministry, the Finance Ministry’s Registrar of Cooperative Societies, the Ministry for the Development of the Periphery, the Negev and the Galilee, and 24 communities, calling for an immediate end to these serious violations of the Admissions Committees Law.
The Knesset Research and Information Center report, published on 2 May 2019, revealed that admissions committees are operating illegally in at least 24 communities in the Negev and the Galilee because the number of households in those communities has exceeded 400, in violation of the provisions of Amendment 8 to the Cooperative Societies Ordinance, 5771-2011.
The Knesset’s data is only partial, since there are no official supervisory mechanisms to ensure compliance with the provisions of the law. Indeed none of the relevant authorities contacted by Knesset researchers actually had the relevant data. Further, seven regional councils did not even respond to official inquiries made by Knesset researchers.
In its letter, Adalah emphasized its principled and resolute opposition to the existence of admissions committees – in general – as a mechanism of discrimination and humiliation. Adalah also objected to the rationale that links the size of a community (up to 400 households) with the possibility of allowing discrimination and the exclusion of citizens from public resources.
However, as long as this discriminatory mechanism continues to operate, its terms must be guaranteed. The Knesset research clearly reveals that the authorities in these 24 communities are acting without authority and in violation of the rule of law. Further, there is no justification for operating admissions committees: the Tenders Law requires that land sales in these communities be open to all citizens.
Adalah demands that Israeli authorities:
- Order the 24 communities specified in the Knesset research to immediately shut down their admissions committees;
- Refrain from allocating any land in these communities until it is ensured that they are not operating admissions committees on an illegal basis;
- Order the cooperative societies in these communities to amend their regulations in a manner that will forbid them from operating an admissions committee in the future.
- Determine whether admissions committees are operating illegally in the regional councils that refused to provide data to Knesset researchers. If so, they must also be obligated to conform with the above requirements.
- The Israeli attorney general issue directives to all communities authorities clarifying their responsibility to abide by the law
Attorney Myssana Morany, coordinator of Adalah’s Land and Planning Rights Unit, commented:
“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. 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. Even worse, it has now been revealed that Israeli authorities are actually operating these discriminatory committees in violation of Israeli law”.