Supreme Court Issues Order Nisi to Knesset and Government Authorities, Demanding Reasons for not Canceling the 2023 Amendment to the Racist ‘Admission Committees Law’

Yesterday, 26 May 2024, the Supreme Court of Israel issued an order nisi (order to show cause) against the Israeli Knesset, Ministry of Economy, and the Israel Land Authority, in which it demanded that they explain their reasons for not revoking a 2023 amendment to the ‘Admissions Committees Law’ that expands the scope of these exclusionary bodies.


The order was issued in response to a petition filed by nine civil society organizations against the Admission Committees Law following the significant expansion of its scope through an amendment enacted in 2023. The petitioning organizations are Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, The Arab Center for Alternative Planning, The Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow Coalition, Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, Ahoti – for Women in Israel, The Association for Distributive Justice, Gila Project for Trans Empowerment and Tolerance, and the Association of Ethiopian Jews. 


    CLICK HERE to read the order [Hebrew] 

HCJ 7148/23 Adalah et al. vs. Israeli Knesset et al.

Read more about the petition >>  

To read more about the law and the petitions challenging it in the Discriminatory Laws Database >>   


The 2023 amendment expands the law in several key areas, including an increase in the number of towns that are permitted operate admission committees (extending its application to larger towns), an expansion of the geographical areas in which they can operate, and the introduction of an additional vague criterion for rejecting applicants that perpetuates racial discrimination in the selection process. 


The petition, filed by Adalah’s Legal Director Attorney Dr. Suhad Bishara on 21 September 2023, argues that the law and the 2023 amendment violate the constitutional right to equality of Palestinian citizens, as well as members of other marginalized groups, including groups represented by the petitioning organizations. It further argues that the amendment shares the same racist purpose as the original version of the Admission Committees Law, enacted in 2011, namely, to segregate Jews and Palestinians throughout Israel and prevent Palestinian citizens of Israel from residing in Jewish towns. It noted that this purpose, which was implicit in the original text of the law, was made explicit in comments made by several Members of Knesset during deliberations on the 2023 amendment. The petitioners argued that the Supreme Court should therefore annul both the amendment and the original law.


Yesterday (Sunday, 26 May), the Supreme Court held the first hearing in the petition. During the hearing, representatives of the Knesset and the state argued that there was no data indicating that the law created discrimination, and that the petition should be dismissed given the short amount of time that had elapsed since the amendment and the absence of an individual petitioner directly impacted by the law resorting to the ripeness doctrine, i.e. that the case was premature for decision. The three-judge panel, composed of Acting President Justice Uzi Vogelman, and Justices Ofer Grosskopf and Daphne Barak-Erez, strongly criticized the state for not independently collecting information on the implementation of the 2011 law, given that it at the very least raises concerns about constitutional rights violations, including of the right to equality. Additionally, the judges asked questions about the law’s expanded scope and how it aligns with the objective of “preserving community life”, which has so far been used as justification for the infringement of the right to equality in Supreme Court rulings on the law.


Adalah commented:


“The legislators’ declarations regarding the need to pass the 2023 amendment, namely to further the Judaization of the land underscore the imperative for the Supreme Court to nullify the law and dismiss claims pertaining to the alleged "preservation of the social fabric" of purportedly small and remote settlements. During the hearing, it became even clearer that the law seeks to deepen segregation in Israel. The Supreme Court demand for the state authorities to provide more compelling justifications for the amendment is a positive step, and we hope that the Court rises to the occasion by annulling the amendment to this racist law, which should be revoked as a whole.”


Photo: Yaa'kov / Wikimedia Commons