Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish rejected an appeal filed by Arab residents of the Jaffa neighborhood of Ajami, in which they inveighed against a decision allowing for the construction of a Jewish-only apartment complex.
Beinish, however, hinted that the permit for the building constituted "wrongful discrimination".
The petitioners claimed that the Jewish Emunah movement, which intends to market the apartments to the national-religious sector, was engaging in discriminatory marketing.
Thus, the petition says, the Israel Land Administration was acting unlawfully when they agreed to lease the land to the movement.
Beinish stated that that the appeal is purely "theoretical" because land rights have already been given to Emunah and payments have been made. However, she did add that in future cases similar to this one, such bids must include a stipulation forbidding discrimination regarding housing.
The Administrative Affairs Court in Tel Aviv rejected the appeal by Ajami residents made earlier this year, claiming the petitioners did not validate the stipulations of the bid and did not apply for it, and therefore cannot become involved in the case.
The petitioners appealed to the Supreme Court, but President Beinish and Justices Miriam Naor and Yoram Danziger denied their request, due to the fact that the deal had already been completed.
However, they added that this issue raises important questions, such as the status of public petitioners in cases of construction bids, private corporations' subordination to anti-discrimination laws, and the extent to which managers may supervise marketing methods of land leased to groups of unique cultural or religious backgrounds.
Beinish wrote that there is a basis to the claim that the Israel Land Administration should oversee the methods of marketing land so it will be fair, even if the company that won the bid is private.
She stated that the Ajami residents were right to criticize the decision to define the national-religious public as a minority group in need of religious and cultural protection, but that in this case, the court can not make a decision because it would not be "practical to provide the petitioners with the assistance they desire".
Beinish ruled that in future cases, bids must include a stipulation forbidding the winner from discriminating against certain groups while selling housing units.
"This is an important and worthy ruling due the public status of the Israel Land Administration and it being a limited public resource, which must be shared equally," explained Beinish.
In regards to the rejection the petitioner's lawyer said: "This decision is disappointing, but it contains important statements which will prevent public land discrimination from now on."
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