Adalah’s Objections to Discriminatory “Kaminitz Bill” for Harsh Enforcement of Planning & Building Law in Israel

The law would expand the use of Israel's administrative powers to implement demolition and eviction orders and would increase the severity of financial penalties on homeowners.

The Interior and Environmental Protection Committee of the Israeli Knesset is currently promoting an amendment to the Planning and Building Law – 1965, also known as the “Kaminitz Bill”[1] for the purpose of increasing the “enforcement and penalization of planning and building offenses”.


The main objectives of the bill are: (1) To concentrate enforcement powers for planning issues into the hands of a national body, which is authorized to take some of these powers from local planning committees; (2) To expand the use of the state’s administrative powers to implement demolition and eviction orders, and other aspects of the law, while limiting the judicial review of the courts; and (3) To markedly increase the use and severity of financial penalties for offenses under the law.


The bill is based on the recommendations of a team appointed by the Attorney General (AG) and headed by Deputy AG Erez Kaminitz. The committee examined how the government dealt with “planning and building offenses” and their link to “offenses involving trespass onto public land”, and in particular looked into obstacles encountered by the supervisory and enforcement bodies in eradicating trespassing and implementing demolition and eviction orders. The team’s recommendations were adopted by the government, which then drafted the current bill.[2]


Adalah’s main objections to the bill are as follows:


  1. The bill will have a disparate impact on Arab citizens of Israel because it fails to take into account the decades of systematic discrimination in state land planning and allocation against them that has resulted in a severe housing crisis in Arab towns and villages throughout Israel.
  2. By substantially expanding the state’s administrative powers to enforce the Planning and Building Law, the bill violates the due process rights of Arab citizens to contest demolition and evictions orders issued against them and their properties before the courts. Although the government is promoting the bill based on the principle of enforcing the rule of law, the rule of law assumes that the citizen was given a reasonable possibility of acting according to the provisions of the law but chose not to do so. In this case, the state bears the responsibility for creating the planning and housing crisis afflicting Arab towns and villages by preventing Arab citizens from obtaining building permits and failing to provide other housing solutions.
  3. The harsher penalties provided to the state under the bill threaten to unjustly sanction Arab citizens of Israel who have been left with no option other than to build without a permit on their private properties by the state’s policy of not issuing building permits for Arab towns and villages and decreasing the amount of land available to Arab citizens for housing purposes.


The bill does not provide a much-needed remedy for the housing crisis in Arab communities, nor does it allow Arab towns and villages to develop economically, with no land allocation for the purpose of building factories, industry, commercial zones or public buildings.


In Adalah’s view, the state’s decades-long discrimination against Arab citizens in land allocation and housing requires a comprehensive solution that takes into account that the existing housing crisis and includes in its objectives the economic growth and development of Arab towns and villages. This solution must involve the cooperation of the planning authorities, relevant government ministries, and the law enforcement authorities.


Background: Discrimination and historical injustice in land


For decades, Arab towns, villages and neighborhoods in Israel have faced systematic discrimination in state land planning and allocation that has brought about a severe housing shortage. The Arab population in Israel currently requires the construction of 13,000 new housing units per year. However, only 7,000 housing units are being built, mostly through private construction, leaving a shortage of at least 6,000 housing units every year.[3] The vast majority – 97% – of administrative demolition orders issued between the years 2012-2014 were against homes in Arab communities. Similarly, of all judicial demolition orders valid as of June 2015, 97% are in Arab communities.[4] 


About 90% of the Arab citizens of Israel live in 139 Arab towns and villages. Since the establishment of the state in 1948, not a single new Arab town or village has been built, even to allow for natural population growth,[5] while the area of jurisdiction of the existing localities has actually shrunk due to the massive expropriation of Arab-owned land, largely for the purpose of “Judaization”, or housing Jewish citizens on the land. Today, all Arab towns and villages in Israel together sit on less than 3% of the land area of the state, although Arab citizens make up 20% of the population. Requests to expand the jurisdictional areas of these communities have with rare exceptions been rejected,[6] with the result that population density has increased eleven-fold since 1948.


A report published by the “120 Days Team”, which addressed the housing shortage in minority communities and whose recommendations were adopted by the government, recognized that the housing shortage was the result of years of discrimination. The obstacles identified by the team include: the lack of local planning committees in most Arab localities; the absence of detailed local master plans; the shortage of state land designated for development within Arab towns and villages; the lack of infrastructure in Arab localities; the unsuitability of the state land tenders published for land in Arab towns and villages to the needs and characteristics of the Arab population; the poor social-economic status of Arab citizens; and the difficulties in securing financing encountered by developers, contractors and residents who wish to purchase housing.


In the absence of adequate, updated master plans for Arab towns and villages, many Arab citizens have been forced to build their homes on private property without building permits. Under the Kaminitz Bill they now face stricter enforcement of demolition and eviction orders, and additional penalties, including imprisonment of up to three years, the daily accumulations of fines that could amount to hundreds of thousands of Israeli shekels. These penalties are unjust because of the state’s consistent and deliberate failure to fulfill its responsibility to formulate master plans for Arab communities or to provide their residents with suitable housing solutions, as is has done for Jewish citizens of Israel.



[1]  Amendment No. 109 to the Planning and Building Law – 2016, Bill no. 1074 (1 August 2016).

[2]  Government Decision no. 1559 of 19 June 2016.

[3] The State Comptroller,  Special Report on “The Housing Crisis”, p. 208, available at: For Adalah’s Response to the State Comptroller’s Report, see Adalah, “Deliberate ‘Obstacles’, not ‘Failures’”, (2015), available at:

[4] Id. p. 17.

[5] Excluding the 7 Bedouin towns established by the State and the 11 Bedouin villages that were recognized.

[6] The Economic Development Authority for the Minorities Sector in the Prime Minister's Office, “Proposed Solution for Planning and Housing in the Arab Sector” (submitted to the Housing Subcommittee of the Committee for Economic and Social Change, headed by Prof. Emanuel Trachtenberg, 2011) (Hebrew).