16 March 2008

Adalah Petitions Supreme Court against Amended Law Banning Income Support Recipients from Owning or Using a Car

On 16 March 2008, Adalah filed a petition to the Supreme Court challenging an amended law that strips recipients of income support allowances of their right to own or use a car. Adalah argued that this amendment is illegal as it discriminates between income support recipients and recipients of supplemental income payments, who are allowed to own and use a car.

As a result of the discrimination that the amended law creates between recipients of income support allowances and supplemental income payments, as well as the arbitrary nature of the amendment and the difficulties that it presents to income support recipients among Arab citizens of Israel, Adalah demanded that the Supreme Court issue an order to expand the scope of Amendment 28 to include income support recipients.

The law was amended following a petition filed by Adalah and The Laborer’s Voice (Sawt el-Amel) in 2004, on behalf of an income support recipient whose request to use a car to assist his blind daughter was denied. The petition challenged the law in force at the time, which denied income support allowances to anyone who owned or used a car. In 2006, the Supreme Court ordered the National Insurance Institute (NII) and the state to respond to the petition, and then the state amended the law. In November 2007, the court ordered the petitioners to submit an amended petition, according to the new law.

In the new petition, which was submitted by Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher, it was argued that the amendment to the Income Support Law (1982) – Amendment 28, discriminates between two groups of people, by allowing those who receive supplemental income payments to use or own a car while barring income support recipients to do so. As a result, instead of improving the legal situation, the amendment creates “sweeping, arbitrary and comprehensive discrimination, with no factual basis.” Attorney Zaher argued that no research was carried out prior to the amendment of the law into the details of Amendment 28, no data were presented regarding the number of people who are harmed by the amendment, and alternatives were not investigated that could lessen the violation of constitutional rights. Similarly, justifications were not put forward for the discrimination between recipients of income support and supplemental income payments regarding the use / ownership of cars.

The discrimination between the two groups constitutes a breach of the principle of equality, as well as other constitutional rights, including the right to dignity, the right to social security and the right to property.

The petition was filed on behalf of an income support recipient from the Arab village of Mashad in the Galilee who requires a car in order to transport his blind daughter. The NII deprived the petitioner of his right to use a car, in spite of the fact that he needs to use it in order to assist his daughter and that he is the only person able to accompany her and take her to receive medical treatment, as well as to deal with her other daily needs.

It was also argued in the petition that the amended law specifically harms Arab citizens, making it more difficult for them to maintain a minimum standard of living. According to the petition, “In the modern age in which we live, a car is a necessity for the fulfillment of many basic needs, for the purpose of maintaining a minimum standard of living and carrying out necessary daily activities in basic daily life, such as attending employment offices, looking for workplaces, having access to medical and health care and to different forms of professional training to assist income support recipients in finding work… one of the obstacles that stands in the way of finding a job, especially for Arab citizens, is the lack of workplaces located close to their areas of residences, and the absence of support from transport and/or funding for transport to workplaces. As a result, there is a greater importance to having a car for income support recipients for the purpose of looking for new workplaces and moving on from being in need to gaining economic independence from the unemployment office.”

H.C. 10662/04, Salah Hassan, et al. v. The National Insurance Institute, et al. (case pending)

The Amended Petition (Hebrew)

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