Government’s proposed allocation of ‘state land’ solely for national-religious Jewish public violates Arab citizens’ right to equality

Adalah: Israel's land policy is characterized by the allocation of land rights in a selective and discriminatory manner on the basis of nationality in favor of the Israeli Jewish population.

On 17 January 2015, Adalah sent a letter to the Attorney General (AG) Yehuda Weinstein, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, and Housing Minister Yoav Galant demanding that they reject the Israel Land Authority’s (ILA) proposed plan to approve the allocation of ‘state land’ solely for the Jewish Israeli religious public. Adalah’s letter comes in response to statements made by state authorities who are reviewing the legality of this dedicated land assignment.


Adalah Attorney Mysanna Morany argued in the letter that the plan is discriminatory and disproportionate. The land designation violates the right to equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel: “Israel's land policy is characterized by the allocation of land rights in a selective and discriminatory manner on the basis of nationality in favor of the Israeli Jewish population. To this end, the state has in fact developed various mechanisms for the exclusion of Arab citizens in the region.” These mechanisms include, among others:


  • Admissions’ committees that decide who may and may not live on moshavim, kibbutzim and in communal settlements;
  • The prohibition of the transfer of properties controlled by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) to non-Jews;
  • Dedicated state land allocation to the Orthodox Jewish population;
  • Non-recognition to dozens of unrecognized Arab villages in the Naqab, including whole communities that were moved there by the military government in the 1950s;
  • Avoiding the needed land allocation to Arab towns for their growth and development.


Thus, Adalah argued in the letter that this new suggested plan simply aggravates a completely inequitable and unjust state land allocation policy. Over the years, Adalah has challenged all of these land exclusion policies before the Israeli courts and in the land planning committees.


Further Attorney Morany argued that legally, under current Israeli Supreme Court case law, only the orthodox Haredi Jewish community is recognized as a different group for residential purposes and land allocations. The national-religious public in Israel, based on the criteria of the Supreme Court, does not constitute a ‘distinct group’ whose lifestyle justifies a special, exclusive allocation of land. Adalah contends in the letter that, “the national-religious [Jewish public] is not a group that maintains a lifestyle that differs substantially from the majority in Israel and they do not refer to themselves as a separate cultural group. Even if there is a certain cultural-religious diversity, this consideration does not justify separate, homogeneous living spaces to protect them from forced assimilation into the majority.”


Adalah also argued in the letter that the discriminatory plan that allows such a state land allocation is not a proper purpose: “The program in question is disproportionate. First, there is no rational connection between the state land allotment, which is permitted for a ‘distinct, minority group’, and the need to maintain the uniqueness of this group. Second, this group is fully able to preserve its culture and character independently without the need for the state to use its power to allocate land in an exclusionary manner. Third, the violation of the principle of equality and the exclusion of other minority groups, namely the Arab minority in Israel, is a violation of human dignity. The benefit of upholding these principles vastly exceeds the need for this practice, if at all.”


Therefore, Adalah demanded that the AG, the Finance Minister and the Housing Minister express their opposition to allocating state land exclusively for national-religious Israeli Jewish public.