Despite the public outcry and political pressure, a bill permitting the activity of admission committees in communal settlements was approved Wednesday for second and third readings in the Knesset.
The Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee accepted Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin's reservations over the bill. According to the amended draft, only communities of up to 400 families will be allowed to appoint reception committees as opposed to 500 in the original draft. In addition, the law will only apply to communal settlements in the Negev and Galilee and not all over the country.
Arab lawmakers have claimed the bill is aimed at preventing Arabs from purchasing homes in Jewish communities while violating a High Court ruling.
"I believe this trend is dangerous. The State of Israel
has faired well in the toughest situations without this miserable bill," Knesset Member Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta`al) said. "It should come as not surprise that every poll indicates we have a tendency towards racism. People don’t want to live with Arabs. They want to (kill) Arabs."
National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari defended the proposal, saying "racism and fascism is yours (Arabs) alone. The Jewish nation returned to its homeland and it will protect its land from all your curing and empty slogans."
Arab and left-wing leaders have claimed that the bill, which was initiated by MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) along with Kadima members Yoel Hasson and Shai Hermesh, borders on racism.
The bulk of the criticism is directed at Rotem, who the Arabs claim has initiated a series of racist proposals, including the "Loyalty Law,"
which requires new citizens declare their loyalty to a "Jewish and democratic state."
On Tuesday the High Court of Justice discussed an appeal filed by an Arab-Israeli couple which was denied residency by the Rakefet community in northern Israel because they were "socially unsuitable."
High Court President Dorit Beinish said, "I didn’t find any incompatibility. This community is not ultra-Orthodox in character. I don't understand what there is to consider here."