Adalah & ACRI to Prime Minister and Attorney General: Transfer of government’s authority to WZO's Settlement Division is illegal

Israeli government transfers its authority to establish and implement settlement policy to an organization that acts in interests of Jewish citizens only.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) sent a letter on 22 March 2016 to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit demanding they act to cancel the recently-approved amendment to the World Zionist Organization - Jewish Agency (Status) Law (originally approved by the Knesset in 1952) that allows the government to transfer its authorities related to settlement policy to the World Zionist Organization's Settlement Division that acts strictly in the interests of Jewish citizens only.


In their letter, Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara and ACRI Attorney Roni Pelli explain that the amendment constitutes a violation of Arab citizens’ rights.


"This amendment allows the government to delegate the state’s authority to establish and implement settlement policy to a private body, beholden only to the interests of Jewish citizens, and one that is not obligated to the rules and standards applicable to a government body. The amendment establishes an arrangement that authorizes the [Settlement] Division to impinge upon Arab citizens' constitutional right to dignity and equality while it is carrying out functions that have clear public objectives."


The human rights organizations maintain that this delegation of authority is forbidden as it violates Israel's Basic Law: The Government, which authorizes the delegation of government authority only to government ministers.


"The government's authorities relating to settlement activities are at the heart of its powers and constitute one of its primary functions that impact upon its citizenry. The government is therefore not able to delegate them to non-governmental bodies such as the Settlement Division. Such authority, involving policy setting and public land resource allocation, requires great discretion."


Attorneys Bishara and Pelli also emphasize in their letter that, in 2015, Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber opined that the Settlement Division is a body upon which "the obligations of administrative law do not fully apply."


Adalah and ACRI maintain that this delegation of government authority to a private body will allow government action to take place outside of the framework of the law and therefore demand that the prime minister and attorney general act to cancel the amendment.


READ: Adalah and ACRI's Letter (Hebrew)