Addressing the failure to provide the Arab communities with tax breaks, the judges wrote: “This is a blatant violation of the equality principle.”
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The Court heard eight petitions on the matter, submitted by both Jewish and Arab communities. Five petitioners, including the towns of Ariel, Karmiel and Tiberias had their requests denied. Petitions by Bedouin communities in the south were also rejected.
The petitioners claimed that tax breaks were being granted without setting uniform, equal and proper criteria. Some petitions charged that Arab and Druze communities in northern Israel, as well as Bedouin communities in the south, are being discriminated against compared to neighboring Jewish communities on non-substantive grounds.
In their verdict, the judges wondered about the criteria used by lawmakers in formulating a list of 167 communities across Israel entitled to tax breaks. “Why were the Jewish communities of Kfar Vradim and Yechiam included, while the nearby Druze community of Beit Jann was excluded?” the judges wrote.
The three-member panel, comprising Judges Beinish, Grunis and Rivlin, ruled that the seemingly arbitrary decisions regarding Arab communities contradict the State’s duty to set criteria for entitlement.
The judges granted the State a period of one year to include the three Arab communities in question in the list of entitlement, in order to allow the Knesset more time to set clear, equal criteria for the tax breaks.
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