Adalah and National Committee of Arab Mayors File Petition to Supreme Court: Cuts in Child Allowances Amount to Intentional Discrimination Against Palestinian Citizens of Israel


Today, Adalah and the National Committee of Arab Mayors filed a petition to the Supreme Court against Knesset Chair Avraham Burg, seeking cancellation of an amendment to Article 68 (a) of the National Insurance Law (1995), passed last night by the Knesset, 74 in favor and 28 against. The amendment would apply a 4% cut to all child allowance payments, and an additional 20% cut in the amounts paid to parents of children without a relative serving in the Israeli army. Palestinian citizens of Israel, the majority of who do not serve in the army, would be most severely affected by the amendment. 

In the petition, Adalah General Director Hassan Jabareen and Staff Attorney Marwan Dalal argued that the amendment is unconstitutional, as it discriminates against the Palestinian community in Israel and denies Palestinian citizens' right to equality. Further, the amendment constitutes a harsh violation of Palestinian citizens' right to dignity under the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty (1992). 

The petitioners stressed that it is not legitimate, in a democratic society, to make the enjoyment of equal civil rights conditional on military service. Further, the petitioners detailed the damage that would undoubtedly be suffered by more than 223,000 Palestinian citizen families who now face a 24% cut in their much-needed child allowance payments. Adalah argued that the cuts outlined in the amendment amount to intentional discrimination based on national belonging. 

Discrimination in the payment of child allowances existed previously in Israel. In 1970, the Discharged Soldiers (Return to Work) Law (1949) was amended to entitle soldiers and their family members to additional child allowances, supplemental to the child allowance payments they received under the National Insurance Law. Israeli Jewish citizens who did not serve in the army received comparable child allowances through other channels: the ultra-Orthodox community through the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and new immigrants through the Jewish Agency. As a result, the majority of Palestinian citizens received lower child allowances than did the majority of Jewish Israeli citizens. This system was gradually phased out in the 1990s, and by 1997, there was ostensible equality for all Israeli citizens in the payment of child allowances. 

The petition will be heard on 13 June 2002 at 11:30 a.m. by Justices Heshin, Beinisch and Levy. 

H.C. 4822/02, The National Committee of Arab Mayors and Adalah v. Avraham Burg, Chair of the Knesset