Photo: Ido Erez
MKs Tibi and El-Sana. Discrimination
Photo: Gil Yohanan
MK Barakeh. Judaizing Negev?
Photo: Hagai Aharon
A decision made by the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs to allow admission committees in the Galilee and Negev to filter candidates seeking to live in their communities has evoked angry responses from Arab Knesset Members and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, who say the resolution is directed against the Arab population.
Adel Kaadan, who fought for years to be able to live in the northern community of Katzir, after his family had been disqualified by an admission committee, told Ynet on Monday, "Why are they even dealing with it? I suggest that the ministers and Knesset members engage in essential matters – the air pollution, people in need.
"Use your energy to help people and the public, as you are in the Knesset for them, and let us live our joint life. Together we will manage to live in peace."
The bill submitted by Knesset Member Israel Hasson (Kadima), which was approved by the ministers, will allow admission committees in Galilee and Negev communities to filter candidates according to their age and financial ability to set up a home in the community within a period of time stated in a real estate rights agreement, as well as in accordance with their suitability to the community's way of life and social fabric.
"It's completely clear to me that despite the petition we filed with the High Court of Justice, had I arrived at an admission committee today we would not have been accepted, as the Jewish Agency was not established to settle Arabs," Kaadan added.
"If the people with common-sense in this country don't wake up, they will become marginal, and the extremists among us will be the ones running the country. We must be aware of this. We must strive for peace, not hatred, and above all we must understand that the prime ministers are the ones delaying the peace processes, causing the radicalizations to worsen."
Kaadan criticized the admission committees, saying that it appeared every group in the country was seeking to set up its own community.
"In the end we will live inside walls. One community will ban the entry of Ethiopians, another will ban the entry of Arabs, and there will be special communities for single parents and religious people. This is not what the State was established for, this is not the State of Israel's vision, and I call on the MK and ministers to let go," he said.
Adel and his wife Iman, who still live in the city of Baqa al-Gharbiyye, are expected to move to their home in Katzir in the coming months together with their five children.
'Didn't pass selection'
Despite the High Court ruling which stated that Kaadan and his family could live in Katzir, Arabs are not flocking to Negev and Galilee communities.
"Over the years we have been approached by couples, families and individuals, who did not pass selection for various considerations," said Nirit Moskovich of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. "The admission committees are thriving and flourishing, and this norm is moving from the small communities to the big cities as well. There are fewer Arabs among those being turned down, but the reason may be that they fear receiving a negative response from the admission committees."
Attorney Gil Gan-Mor of the ACRI added, "The selection process is a blatant case of discrimination, and I believe the bill stems from a desire to realize a Zionist vision, accompanied by discrimination and racism, especially if the law allows the committees to force future residents to declare that they identify with certain national values.
"Being admitted into a community has nothing to do with the candidate's opinions. This bill is an attempt to brutally interfere with a matter which is now being discussed by the High Court and bypass previous rulings."
MKs from all Arab factions responded angrily to the bill's approval as well. Hadash Chairman Mohammad Barakeh said that this was a racist proposal. "Supporting the law justifies what we have been saying for years, that the Galilee and Negev development project is in fact an attempt to Judaize those two areas."
MK Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al) said, "This reminds me of the white communities in South African in the apartheid era. Today laws are initiated for segregation in housing and tomorrow they will initiate laws for segregation in buses."
MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) said, "There is no doubt that this proposal goes around the High Court ruling and aims – through language laundering – to provide communities' committees with tools to filter and discriminate against people they don't approve of, like Kaadan and others. Otherwise, why would they need such a bill?"