Discriminatory Budget Cuts in Child Allowances.

HCJ 4822/02, The National Committee of Arab Mayors and Adalah v. Avraham Burg, Chair of the Knesset, et. al.

A petition was filed in 6/02 on behalf of the National Committee for Arab Mayors and in Adalah’s own name against Avraham Burg, then-Chair of the Knesset and others. The petitioners asked the Court to declare unconstitutional an amendment to the National Insurance Law (1995) that mandates a 4% cut in child allowances for all citizens of Israel, and an additional 20% cut for families in which neither parent served in the army. The majority of Arab citizens of Israel are exempt from and do not join the military, and thus would be most severely affected by these cuts. Adalah argued that the new law amounts to intentional discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel and violates the right to equality; that its effect would be to increase the already dramatic rate of poverty of Arab families and children; and that it is illegitimate in a democratic society to make the enjoyment of equal civil rights conditional on military service. Numerous petitions were filed to the Court challenging the new law, including case filed by ACRI, the National Council for the Child, and several religious organizations. The Court joined all of these cases for hearings and decision.

In 10/02, the National Insurance Institute published new data indicating that the new law would affect 375,000 families, as opposed to its original calculation of 223,000. In response to this new information, Adalah requested and the Court issued an injunction to stay the implementation of the law. In 3/03, at a Supreme Court hearing on the case, Adalah challenged the AG’s claim that even if the budget cuts may be discriminatory, they are legitimate and proportional. In 5/03, the Knesset passed the government’s new economic plan, which proposes cuts in child allowances for all families over a longer period time. The state subsequently submitted a motion to the Court claiming that the case should be dismissed, as the issue is moot. Adalah filed a response in 6/03 requesting that the Court issue a judgment on the petition arguing that the issue of using military service to discriminate against Arab citizens of Israel is a principle, constitutional matter that is still unresolved between the parties; and that it is an inappropriate time for the state to request dismissal of the case, as all Court hearings have concluded.

Result: In 7/03, the Court decided to dismiss the petition, as the relevant provision of the law was cancelled by the Knesset's passage of the new economic plan. (H.C. 4822/02, The National Committee of Arab Mayors and Adalah v. Avraham Burg, Chair of the Knesset, et. al.)

Report: Potential Impact of Cuts in Child Allowances on the Palestinian Minority in Israel:
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