pr 08-06-04

26  January 2009

Following Adalah’s Petition Supreme Court Orders State to Respond as to Why Admissions Committees, which Overwhelming Exclude Arab Citizens of Israel from Living in “Community Towns”, are Legal

On 6 January 2009, the Supreme Court of Israel issued an order nisi (order to show cause) that compels the state to respond within 60 days to a petition filed by Adalah demanding the cancellation of admission committees in “community towns”, which select among candidates who wish to live in these towns. Overwhelmingly, these admissions committees exclude Arab families, Eastern Jews, single-parent families, gays, unmarried persons and other social groups from “community towns”.

According to Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara, who filed the petition to the court, the court’s decision compels the Israel Land Administration (ILA) and the regional selection committee in the north to state their positions towards the following issues: why is it legal to prohibit a married Arab couple, Ms. Fatina Ebriq Zubeidat and Mr. Ahmed Zubeidat, from living in the community town of Rakefet; why shouldn’t an ILA decision establishing admissions committees and their use of the criterion of “social suitability” as a condition for living in community towns be cancelled; and why should this “social suitability” criterion not be replaced with clear, defined and equitable selection criteria.

Adalah filed the petition on 23 September 2007 in its own name and on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Zubeidat, whose request to live in Rakefet in the Western Galilee in the north of the country was rejected by the regional selection committee of the Misgav Regional Council. The Zubeidats were rejected on the basis of their “social unsuitability”, as determined by the admissions committee, to live in the town. The petition was also filed on behalf of Another Voice in the Galilee (Kol Aher BaGalil), the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow (HaKeshet), Bimkom: Planners for Planning Rights, the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, and the Arab Center for Alternative Planning.

On 31 October 2008, the Supreme Court issued an injunction that forced the town of Rakefet to set aside a plot of land for the Zubeidats pending a final decision by the court.

The main argument set forth in the petition was that the operation of these admissions committees harms the rights of a citizen of Israel to choose his or her place of residence in any town in the country, and in particular in towns that were not established specifically for population groups with distinct cultural characteristics, such as religious communities. Attorney Bishara argued that the criterion of ‘social suitability’ is not based on specific provisions of Israeli law, and is vague, over-broad and arbitrary, which allows a small group of people very wide scope to take decisions over the future of applicants.

The Decision of the Supreme Court, 6.1.09 (Hebrew)

Adalah’s Petition (Hebrew)




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