The Knesset's Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee on Wednesday approved in its second and third reading a bill allowing communities of under 500 people to appoint admissions boards, which will be able to reject new residents who do not answer to a specific set of criteria.
The bill was proposed 10 years ago, when the High Court of Justice forced Katzir to accept the Kaadan family into its midst.
The bill, which attempts to bypass the court's ruling, is seen by many as racist. It stipulates that acceptance committees will be capable of denying the application of anyone who does not suit the residents' cultural and social perspectives, or who does not have sufficient funds to build a home there.
Arab MKs, many of whom walked out on the Knesset debate in protest, claim communities are seeking a way in which to legally reject Israeli-Arabs from settling there.
"This law allows the establishment of Jewish communities that want to prevent Arab residents from entering. All of the bill's stipulations exist only in the Jewish sector," said MK Taleb El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al).
He turned to MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu), who chairs the committee and is also one of the bill's initiators, and said, "Say that Yisrael Beiteinu members will also be on the acceptance committees to check up on the applicants' ideologies."
MK Hanna Swaid (Hadash) added that the bill was a provocation. "We know the initiators of the bill mean one thing while speaking in completely different terms," he said.
'Jewish communities need Arabs for Sabbath'
Arab and Jewish MKs bickered throughout the debate, with MK Rotem joking, "Every Jewish community needs at least one Arab resident, because someone needs to turn on the refrigerator on Saturdays."
Later, MK Uri Ariel (National Union) remarked jocularly that his colleague MK Michael Ben-Ari was trying at the moment to be admitted into the community of Umm al-Fahm, referring to the rightist march that sparked riots there on Wednesday.
El-Sana responded, "As a sign of protest we are leaving. We will not be a part of a debate on this racist and fascist law. This is disgraceful – you have crossed the line."
MK Israel Hasson (Kadima), who proposed the bill, explained that it "reflects the state's commitment to the achievement of the Zionist vision in the Land of Israel".
"Around 30 years ago the state established a number of small communities in the Galilee and the Negev. These communities were intended to achieve the government's goals by spreading out the population and allowing residents to lead a rural lifestyle based on social and cultural cohesion," Hasson explained.
"The bill is balanced and institutionalizes a public process which includes appeals, and representatives of ministers will guarantee a reliable process without discrimination or illegal bias while maintaining small community growth."
Zvi Lavi contributed to this report
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