The Knesset passed a series of bills that will deepen discrimination against the Arab community - مركز مساواة لحقوق المواطنين العرب في اسرائيل

The Knesset passed a series of bills that will deepen discrimination against the Arab community

During its summer session; the 19th Knesset approved a series of bills that will deepen the discrimination against the Arab community. The previous Knesset already approved a series of laws that discriminate against Arab society, and since the current Knesset began its operations extreme right wing members of Knesset continue in promoting discriminatory legislation. The ministerial committee for legislation supported the bills, and there is a reasonable chance that they will be approved by the Knesset during its winter session which starts in October 2013.

The bill "Regulating Bedouin Settlement in the Negev - 2012"

In June 2013, the Knesset approved the first reading of the bill "Regulation of Bedouin Settlement - 2012" It is designed to evacuate and relocate Arab Bedouin citizens who reside in unrecognized villages in the Negev. The bill was approved by a narrow majority of 43 supporting it, compared with 40 voting against. The bill seeks to allow the government to evacuate the residents of the unrecognized villages in the Negev. The bill was approved by the government and is based on the report of the committee headed by Ehud Prawer meant to implement the committee report by Justice Eliezer Goldberg that was submitted in 2008.

The Goldberg report was rejected by the government established implementation committee. Also, submitted plans were amended by government ministers following political pressure triggered by representatives of the settlers and the extreme right in the government and in the Knesset.

The Government allocated hundreds of millions of shekels for the Implementation of the evacuation plan, intended to speed up operations. As part of the budget approved at the end of July 2013 funds will be allocated to employ 250 police officers for the evacuation of villages not recognized by the government.

It should be noted that the previous Knesset approved the recognition of individual farms of Jewish citizens who received land from the state and were built in violation of regional planning. Some Arab villages intended for evacuation will be established as Jewish settlements such as "Ir Habahadim" a training base city planned to house 11 thousand soldiers and military families that move to the Negev.

For More background information:

Extension of the Citizenship Law (Temporary Order)

The government and the Knesset once again approved the extension of the temporary order that affects the family life of couples involved on both sides of the Green Line.The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law is an Israeli law that was initially passed as a temporary provision on 31st of July 2003, restricting the eligibility of Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens to gain citizenship, residency permits or even entry permits to visit their spouses in Israel. Despite being a temporary order, the law has been renewed annually. Extension of the temporary order is explained by government as security considerations. Tens of thousands of families are being harmed because they were denied their right as a spouse to become a citizen of the state of Israel. The court rejected petitions against the temporary order that has been extended 13 times.

For more information about the law:

Bill permitting discrimination based on military service

On June 16, 2013, the Ministerial Committee for Legislative affairs approved the proposal of MK Yariv Levin on the "rights of contributors to the state". This bill will allow discrimination against Arab citizens and give preference to veterans and families of soldiers in hiring, wages, utilities, academic admissions, student dormitories and allocation of land. There already exists practical preference to Jews over Arabs in employment. For example only 6.2% of governmental employees are Arab citizens.

The bill violates the Equal Opportunities Act. Following approval of the bill the attorney general was asked to give a second opinion. A number of ministers have appealed against the bill and following the review of the Attorney General and government approval the law will be brought to the Knesset for a vote during the winter session.

It should be noted that the Ministry of Defense allocates more than 1.7 Billion NIS as grants to veterans each year. Preference for veterans in land allocation, student housing and employment is already practiced.  Although legislation designed to allow equality in employment was approved and The Equality Commission was established, hiring discrimination persists in many workplaces. Unfortunately, labor unions such as the Electricity workers union, ports and other major employers also practice a policy of employment discrimination. 

Basic Law of the Jewish state:

The bill that was submitted to the Knesset by MKs Ayelet Shaked, Yariv Levin and Robert Iltov states, "Israel is the national home of the Jewish people in which the desire for self-determination is fulfilled - according to the cultural and historical legacy." The proposal also states "the right to national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people."

Even the Israel Democracy Institute defined the bill as "raising difficult questions" about the definition of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and that it could undermine the delicate balance between the Jewish and democratic character of the state. The proposal follows a wave of laws and private bills that can be argued to be hurting the democratic character of the state".

Raising the threshold to 4%

The bill was proposed by the chairman of the constitution committee of the Knesset, and approved by the Knesset in the first reading following heavy pressure on MKs from the coalition party leaders. The governance bill will increase the threshold of votes needed to enter the Knesset to 4%, thereby damaging the political diversity of the parties representing the Arab citizens of Israel.

The Mossawa Center is working to influence the legislative process addressing the public and calling on active citizens to work against the continued promotion of laws that deepen the discrimination of Arab citizens. The Center has warned that Israel's legal system today includes laws that discriminate in civil rights. These laws give an advantage to the Jewish population in; immigration, residence, control over religious institutions such as the Waqf [Islamic endowment system] management, land rights, culture and media.

For more information about the legal status of the Arab community and Mossawa constitutional proposals you can see at the following link:

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