Attorney General Menachem Mazuz on Wednesday said he opposed granting the ultra-Orthodox sector the same affirmative action and allotment of public service jobs to be granted to the Arab sector.
Mazuz made this statement after ultra-Orthodox MKs blocked the passing of the affirmative action law for the Arab sector and demanded it include the ultra-Orthodox community as well.
Speaking at the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry addressing the difficulties of absorbing Arab employees into the public service, Mazuz said, "I wonder if the haredim's problem is that they face hurdles or if they don't try to integrate into public service.
"We already have haredim in the system and if there are hurdles that are blocking their integration, they are of a completely different nature," he added, saying he hoped to remove the ultra-Orthodox block that was delaying the law in the next Knesset.
"I view the government's active and initiated work towards integrating the Arab public in State service as in all the other systems in Israel as a matter of great importance," he said.
"The decision to grant them affirmative action and designated positions was right and necessary. When their starting point is so low, drastic measures are needed to start the process. It may be possible to lower the dosage once the process kicks off."
Mazuz added that steps that have already been taken have shown a certain improvement, "but the situation is still far from satisfactory".
Nonetheless, he said the glass could be viewed as "half full" since from the time the matter was brought to the public agenda, a 30% rise has been recorded in the number of Arabs hired for public service jobs.
Thanks to recent initiatives towards their integration, Arab employees now make up almost 9% of public servants.
MK Tibi: Distance is not the problemThe attorney general said that the October 2000 clashes between Israeli Arabs and police led to a withdrawal in the process, which emerged during the receptive atmosphere that followed the Oslo Accords.
"But the work does not end with a statistical rise in the number of workers in junior positions. We will not end the process without the active promotion of Arab representation in senior posts," Mazuz said.
The attorney general said he was already working towards the promotion of the Arab sector's representation in the judicial system.
"In order for us to have Arab judges in the Supreme Court, we must first have district judges and even an Arab district prosecutor, which we currently don't have.
"This will attract more and more Arab attorneys to service. Those that are absorbed by the State Prosecutor's Office today retire a few years later, many to the private market, due to financial considerations, and because it is more attractive," Mazuz said.
The attorney general also addressed other barriers the Arab sector may face, such as "cultural differences and prejudice that influence the decisions that people make" and the lack of faith of Arabs in the establishment's desire to hire them.
Mazuz also mentioned the geographical distance between most of the Arab population and government offices in Jerusalem.
In response to this, head of the commission MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) said, "The distance will not stop them from moving to Jerusalem if they get enticing jobs, just like it didn't stop the 300 private lawyers from the Galilee and the Triangle region who have been living in Jerusalem for a while now."