Job application (illustrative)
Job application (illustrative)Thinkstock

The Knesset approved a bill prohibiting employers from discriminating against job candidates based on their place of residence on its preliminary reading on Wednesday.

If passed, the bill will hold employers who are found to discriminate against potential candidates based on their residence - or travel time, as is often the case - as violators of the Equal Employment Opportunities Law, with a fine of up to 150,000 shekels ($43,364).

MK Shuli Muallem Refaeli (Jewish Home/Bayit Yehudi) proposed the bill, and explained Wednesday that the initiative not only protects the poor - who may have to live well outside an industrial area's limits due to Israel's housing crisis - but also fights political discrimination.

"A person's choice of residence is affected by so many different factors," the explanatory note states, "and should not affect an applicants' candidacy for employment. Take, for instance, the school principal who refuses to hire 'settlers' because of their place of residence, and told a teacher that moving to Haifa made him more 'moral' after moving from 'immoral' Kiryat Arba [near Hevron - ed.]."

"Let us make a clear statement here: we want to protect the rights of people, wherever they wish to work, and prevent further discrimination," she concluded. 

Economics Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) hailed the bill.

"Leftist parties are certainly in favor of equal rights for everyone, so I cannot imagine that they would vote against this, and I would assume that it would bother them that those who live in Samaria are very consistently discriminated against," Bennett said. 

MK Mohammed Burakeh (Hadash) slammed the proposal, however, claiming it "legitimized the Occupation."

"The purpose of this proposal is to legalize the annexation of the occupied territories, and to act in these areas if they are within its sovereign territory of Israel," Baraka accused wildly. "We would applaud if something normal ever was issued from this racist party." 

Despite the rant, 27 MKs supported the proposal and only 12 opposed. The bill has been passed to the Labor and Welfare Committee for preparation for the first Knesset reading.