Monday, 4 January 2010

Israel rejects bill allocating equal land to Jews and Arabs

Why a Jewish State cannot be a Democratic State

To the argument of 'left' Zionists that Israel is both a Jewish and a Democratic State, one merely needs to point to the issue of land. Without exception, land is confiscated from one section, Arabs, and given for the use of Jews. Quasi Autonomous National Organisations (Quangos) such as the Israeli Lands Administration, on which of course no Arab sits, regularly allocate land for the benefit of Jews only, in conjunction with their partners, the Jewish National Fund.

In the Mazuz case in 2005, the Israeli High Court held that the ILA must sell or lease to both Arabs and Jews. That decision has been comprehensively ignored, and as reported below, the latest attempt to circumvent it is to give 'reception committees' the final say as to whether Arabs will be admitted to their villages. This was rejected by the High Court but it will quite possibly be enshrined in legislation instead. The existing reception committees will, of course, be Jewish only and therefore this is a transparent attempt to preserve the existing apartheid situation.

The accompanying article shows how Israel's 'democracy' has rejected a fundamental of democracy - equality between citizens. Of course in a Jewish state land is deemed part of the national heritage, i.e. the Jewish component of the state.

For the sake of historical background I also include 2 articles from 2005 on the decision of the High Court and reactions to it from the major Zionist Parties, including Labour.

Meretz, including Mapam, welcomed the Court decision in 2005 but Meretz now has just 3 seats in the Knesset. Shinui has disappeared altogether. In short Israeli politics have moved more and more clearly to the racist right. The fact that a party leader, Menahem Porush could openly talk of wanting a situation where "Israel's land would only be sold to Jews." itself speaks volumes as to the racist and apartheid nature of Israel. In any other country but Israel such a person would be ostracised if not locked up.

Tony Greenstein

Haaretz Sunday, January 03, 2010

Israel rejects bill allocating equal land to Jews and Arabs

By Jonathan Liss

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday rejected a bill proposed by MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra'am-Ta'al) proposing that the state enforce equal allocation of land to Jews and Arabs.

"Yet again, the Israeli government has proven that it is avoiding the principle of civil equality," Tibi said in response to the ruling. "The same government which approved the selection bill of [Jewish] MKs David Rotem and Israel Hasson, ignores Arabs' rights, and hasn't approved the building of a new Arab village since 1948. The government failed at the challenge I placed before it, and that saddens me."

The bill's authors stressed the importance of it in an explanation to the committee.

"Since the foundation of the state, the Israel Lands Administration is solely used as Jewish land administration. The director of the Israel Lands Administration has used all the tactics, with the help of the Jewish Agency, to allocate state land only to Jews. Despite the bitter attempt over the decades, not even one Arab town has been established since the state's foundation. Therefore a bill must be passed which stipulates that the Israel Lands Administration will serve all the state's citizens without discrimination on religion or nationality, and will promise an equal allocation of land to better the Arab population of Israel."

Tibi's proposal was intended to counter a bill passed two weeks ago which states that reception committees of Israeli communities can decide who will reside in their towns. One consequence of that bill is that Israeli Arabs would not be able to live in those towns if the reception committees decide so.

Historic Land Decision Made
Attorney General allows land to be purchased by Jews and Arabs alike
Published: 01.27.05, 09:49 / Israel News

TEL AVIV - Attorney General Menachem Mazuz decided Wednesday all land managed by Israel Lands Administration, including land owned by the Jewish National Fund, can be sold without discrimination to Jews and non-Jews alike.

Adalah, an organization for Arab minority rights, appealed to the High Court of Justice several months ago claiming state discrimination after Israel Lands Administration restricted non-Jews from partaking in a tender for land in the northern town of Carmiel.

The petition cited the Administration's decision as racist and contrary to the fundamental principle of equality.

The Administration submitted a response to the High Court in November saying "land owned by the Administration is for the development of Jewish settlements only, as all JNF money comes from Jewish donors."

Adalah said this decision contradicts the High Court's ruling in the Kadan case, whereby an Arab couple had requested permission to move to the settlement of Katzir, defined as "for Jews only."

The High Court had ruled the state and other affiliated agencies would be prohibited from discriminating against non-Jews, including all matters regarding land allocation.

JNF told Yedioth Ahronoth they have met with Justice officials to seek a solution to the decision, to either receive alternative land in exchange for land given to non-Jews, or to separate the JNF from the Administration.

"As long as the future of Israel's security is not secured, it's only fitting our land would be solely for Jewish settlers," a spokesman said.

Land Decision Slammed
Politicians rage over Attorney General decision to sell JNF land; Shinui and Meretz welcome change

TEL AVIV - Nation Union Knesset Member Arieh Eldad said Thursday he believes Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has violated the declaration of independence by choosing a democratic Israel over a Jewish state.

Eldad responded to Mazuz's decision to allow land managed by Israel Lands Administration, including land owned by the Jewish National Fund, to be sold without discrimination to Jews and non-Jews alike.

Eldad told Ynetnews he believes Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni should dismiss Mazuz, if they have "any trace left of Zionist conscience."

"But, I find it hard to believe the Prime Minister would do this," he said. "After all, Mazuz decided not to try him."

Likud Knesset Member Moshe Kachlon said he plans to convene a meeting with the Likud faction to discuss the party's stance on Mazuz's decision.

Agudath Yisrael Knesset Member Meir Porush said he believes Mazuz's decision demonstrates Israel has lost its standing as a Jewish state.

Porush said he would call for Knesset members to support him in trying to change Israel's basic land allocation law, so "Israel's land would only be sold to Jews."

National Religious Party Chairman Zevulun Orlev said he believes the decision contradicts Israel's definition as a Jewish state.

"JNF land does not belong to the state, it belongs to the Jewish nation," he said.

However, there are politicians who support the new decision.

Meretz Knesset Member Ran Cohen said he believes the decision is important because it acknowledges an attempt to changes years of discrimination.

"Finally a justice prevails for Israel's citizens," he said.

Shinui Knesset Member Ilan Shalgi said he believes JNF has a historical role which ended with the establishment of Israel.

"We are talking about leasing land, not transferring ownership," he said. "The state can keep an eye out to prevent land from falling into the hands of hostile countries."

National Democratic Assembly Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka said he believes this decision would not solve existing land allocation disputes.

"It's too little, too late," he said.

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