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Knesset Panel Okays Bill Aimed at Pro-Arab Court Ruling

A Knesset committee has approved a bill that would circumvent a High Court ruling nine years ago and allow small Jewish towns to bar Arabs.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 12/7/2009, 10:56 AM / Last Update: 12/7/2009, 11:05 AM

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A Knesset committee has approved a bill that would allow communities with less than 500 homes to reject applicants, including Arabs, who want to move in to the community. The bill is sponsored by Kadima Knesset Members Yoel Hasson and Shai Hermesh along with National Union MK Uri Ariel.

The proposed legislation is aimed at “preserving the ability to fulfill the Zionist dream,” according to MK Hasson. “Thirty years ago, the government established a string of small communities in the Galilee and Negev.” He explained that the Knesset needs to ensure that the objective of the project can be achieved.

         MK Hasson            The High Court, under the guidance of former Chief Justice Aharon Barak, ruled in 2000 that the Galilee community of Katzir could not legally prevent an Arab family from buying a home there. However, the Israel Lands Administration had allocated land to the Jewish Agency, which had set up Katzir and seven other communities in the Galilee to create a Jewish buffer region in the predominantly Arab area.

The Supreme Court ruled 4-1 that the Israel Lands Administration “was not legally allowed to allocate state lands to the Jewish Agency for the purpose of setting up the town of Katzir on the basis of discrimination between Jews and Arabs.”

Pro-Arab groups strongly oppose the new legislation and charge that it intends to bypass the High Court ruling.