The High Court of Justice on Monday has ordered the state to explain within 60 days why it was not considering a new law allowing small communities to have admission committees illegal.
A bill permitting admission committees – able to prohibit applicants from residing in towns that establish them – was approved in March, but the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Abraham Fund, and Adalah petitioned the court over its acceptance.
The groups say the bill gives backing to discrimination against people for reasons of race or other concerns that go against civil rights.
The orders were issued by a panel of judges from the High Court of Justice, headed by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish, who also determined that the next hearing will be held before a panel of nine judges.
The petition demands that the bill – proposed by MKs David Rotem, Israel Hasson, and Shai Hermesh – be repealed and admissions committees deemed illegal.
Attorney Gil Gan-Mor told the court that most residents of Israel's small communities do not lead a communal lifestyle and have no special characteristics that must be preserved.
According to the new law, communities are allowed to reject applicants based on their incompatibility with the communities' "unique characteristics".
Therefore, Gan-Mor claims, the law merely allows discrimination against "undesirable subjects" such as Arabs, single mothers, people with disabilities, religious people, and Mizrahi Jews to occur under the explanation of "incompatibility with life in the community".
But the state claims petitioners are interpreting the law in an extremist fashion, and that they should not have petitioned the court so soon after the law's passing.
David Kempler, who petitioned the High Court three years ago after claiming he had been rejected by Kibbutz Ma'ayan Baruch for reasons of "social incompatibility", was optimistic after the hearing.
"It's a very good feeling. The High Court's decision encourages me because despite the fact that I, personally, have managed, I am concerned for others in the same situation," he told Ynet.