Justice Minister Tzipi Livni announced on Sunday night that she would appeal a proposed law to reward former IDF soldiers and those who did civilian national service.
The bill was approved on Sunday by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, but Livni based her decision on an opinion by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who said the bill "violates the right to equality."
The law, proposed by coalition chairman MK Yariv Levin (Likud-Yisrael Beytenu), suggests new benefits for former soldiers and civilian service volunteers. Among other things, Levin’s law would make it legal to prefer former soldiers and volunteers when hiring, or to pay them a higher salary.
Weinstein, however, clarified in the legal opinion published Sunday evening that the law violates the right to equality which is enshrined in the Basic Law. According to Weinstein, there are "constitutional difficulties" in favoring those who served in the military when it comes to limited resources such as allocating state lands, since allocating these to one person is done at the expense of others, and these resources should thus be divided equally.
The Attorney General added that "the violation of equality embodied in the bill is directed at population groups which already suffer from discrimination. Accordingly, the damage [to these populations] must meet all the conditions set forth in the restrictive clause prescribed in the Basic Law, and which basically demand that the infringement be made for a proper purpose and be proportionate."
Basing her announcement to appeal the law on Weinstein’s opinion, Livni said that “it is appropriate and important to reward those who served in the military or who did national service, but it must be done in ways that are constitutional.”
The proposed law has already been slammed by the head of the leftist Meretz party, MK Zehava Galon, as being racist against Israeli Arabs, most of whom do not serve.
Galon argued that she favors giving benefits to soldiers – but only if Arab citizens who do not serve in either military or civilian service are not left worse-off in comparison.
Israeli Arabs are not required to enlist in the military, and most choose not to perform voluntary civilian service (Sherut Leumi) either.
MK Levin dismissed Galon’s condemnation of his bill. “The goal of the law is to ensure that whoever gives to their country gets the benefits they deserve,” he stated.