The Mossawa Center appeals against the ministerial approval of a bill that will deepen discrimination by giving job, Housing and Higher education preference to IDF veterans
On Sunday June 16th, a bill was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Law, Justice and Constitution to give a preference to IDF (Israeli Defense Force) veterans in jobs, salary conditions and housing. The law is also expected to influence a preference for student housing institutions for higher education and allocation of land for housing to those who have served in the army.
The same bill was dropped in the last Knesset, after two legal opinions warned that it would be discriminatory and unconstitutional. However, the coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) does not consider the discrimination in the bill as illegal and his opinion was echoed by all the ministers from Likud, Yisrael Beitenu and Habayit Hayenhudy who supported the draft law. The Mossawa Center Economic department examined direct support to veterans and showed that the government currently allocates 1.8 billion Shekels in aid to veterans, so the government could allocate more of the budget for veterans' funds without further discrimination. More than 52.5 Billion NIS where allocated in the year 2012 to Ministry of Defense in the state budget.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein pointed out legal obstacles facing the bill, which infringes on the right of equality. It includes a constitutional flaw which discriminates against groups who are legally exempt from service, and undermines the Basic Law on Freedom of Occupation and the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty. The Justice Minister Tzipi Livni announced that she would appeal the decision to ensure further discussion before the bill can be voted on in the Knesset.
The already existing discrimination of the Arab citizens is evident in the employment levels in the civil sector, which amounts to only 7% Arabs, and employment in institutions of Higher Education at 2.5%. If the proposed bill becomes legislation, this will only deepen existing inequalities and limit the chances for the integration of Arab minorities into Israeli society.
"Enforcement of military service and the connection of it with rights attainment is against the right for equality. Thousands of Arab youth are active as volunteers in community based projects however these projects are not linked to security institutions who act against the Arab minority, and we request that this volunteering is recognized and supported financially through Arab local councils - as there is currently no governmental support for the volunteering in the Arab community" stated Attorney Nidal Othman, Mossawa Project Manager.
We call upon the international community and official international missions to express their concern on this bill which will further institutionalize discrimination against the Arab minority.