ACRI claims Mitzpe Aviv charter aims to bar Arabs

January 22, 2010 00:17

Recently approved charter requires prospective members to declare they believe in the values of Zionism, Jewish tradition and Israel as a Jewish and state.

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ACRI claims Mitzpe Aviv charter aims to bar Arabs

misgav 88 248. (photo credit: Courtesy Misgav Regional Council)

The Registrar for Cooperative Associations has asked Mitzpe Aviv, a rural settlement in the Misgav Administrative District, to respond to a demand to cancel a recently approved charter requiring any prospective member to declare that he believes in the values of Zionism, Jewish tradition and Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

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The demand was made earlier this month by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel in a letter to the registrar, Uri Zeligman. ACRI attorney Auni Bana charged that the new charter was meant to keep Israeli Arabs from purchasing land and building homes in the community though Mitzpe Aviv is built on state-owned land.

Bana charged that the charter violated a ruling passed by the High Court of Justice prohibiting selection committees from rejecting applicants on religious or ethnic grounds.

According to Alaa Mahajna, an attorney for Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, at least two other rural settlements in the Misgav Region, Manof and Yuvalim, have already adopted similar charters and others are expected to follow.

In his letter to Zeligman, Bana wrote that the change in Mitzpe Aviv's regulations "included an amendment to the article regarding aims and powers so that it defines the community as one that embraces the values of rural settlement, Zionism, Jewish tradition, the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, tolerance and human dignity."

Bana added that the conditions for acceptance into the community had also changed substantially in keeping with the change in the declared aims of the settlement. According to the new regulations, anyone seeking to join the community would have to declare that he shared the values listed above.

"We ask you not to approve the amendment to the regulations because it is illegal and exceeds its prerogative," Bana told Zeligman. "The amendment precludes any possibility for an Arab to live in the community, thus violating his basic rights."

The Mitzpe Aviv secretariat was unavailable to answer phone calls from The Jerusalem Post asking for a response to ACRI's charges.

The legal situation regarding the rights of selection committees is uncertain. The High Court has said a committee cannot reject an Arab or anyone else on religious or ethnic grounds. But it is unclear whether a community can approve a charter that effectively, but not explicitly, rules out various groups and requires applicants to declare their agreement with the values included in the charter.

Meanwhile, a group of MKs has submitted a bill that would grant settlements the right to accept or reject candidates on the basis of their "suitability to fit in with the way of life and social texture of the community as one which is socially and culturally united."

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