Over the past year, Israel has been encouraging internal migration of residences to Galilee
and Negev regions, but in many such communities applicants must be approved by a local committee, a procedure which has met large-scale public fury.
Now, the sensitive issue has been officially addressed by the Knesset.
The High Court of
Justice has heard several appeals regarding such admission committees. The first case was by an Arab couple who claimed they were rejected by a community due to their origin. They won the appeal and the court ruled the rejection was an illegitimate discrimination.
Later on, the Admission Committees Act was instated, allowing Galilee and Negev
communities with less than 400 members, to hold the procedure.
Appeals were filed against the law, claiming it still qualified as discrimination.
On Tuesday, while the admission committees issue was discussed by a special panel composed of nine judges, Knesset Legal Advisor Eyal Yinon addressed
the campaign urging Israelis to move to the Negev and the Galilee, saying "If (the campaigns') slogans mean to block out minorities than they are of a racist nature, and are utterly invalid."
Yinon, who presented the Knesset's official position on the matter, noted that he was aware that his statement would constitute stepping on the proverbial land mine; due to the legislation drafters' intention to see the law Judaize both regions.
"Jewish communities do not mean barring Arabs from the region." Yinon said. "The law clearly states that the committee will not reject an applicant based on race, religion, nationality and country of origin, therefore a community settlement does not necessarily mean rejecting minorities," he added.
Contrary to Yinon, Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon
said: "The issue of settling the land is highly important, from both the Zionist and the national aspects and that is not something to be ashamed of.
"It means spreading the population to both Negev and Galilee, and creating a Jewish hold in these regions."
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