The High Court of Justice is set to hear three separate petitions on Wednesday
filed by rights groups over what they claim are various instances of
institutionalized discrimination against Arab Israelis.
President Dorit Beinisch and Justices Eliezer Rivlin and Miriam Naor will hear
the petitions, which involve issues as varied as racial profiling in airports,
lack of Arab representation on the Israel Land Council, and the “Nakba
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All three petitions demand the court intervene to effect changes in
Israel’s government policy regarding the country’s Arab minority.
first petition, filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and
Itach Women Lawyers for Social Justice, claims that the the Israel Land Council,
the body that sets policy for the Israel Land Authority (ILA), is in violation
of legal directives on equality because it does not include any Arab Israelis or
women among its 12 government ministry members.
The petitioners asked the
High Court to annul the appointment of current Israel Land Council members, and
appoint Arab Israelis and women members in their stead.
a fifth of Israel’s population, but are almost not represented among the general
public,” the petition argues. “Their impact on public discourse is therefore
Rawia Aburabia, an attorney in ACRI’s Arab Minority Rights
Department, said that the issue lies with the Israel Land Law, according to
which ministers must each appoint a ministry employee as a representative to the
Israel Land Council.
The government has explained in its response to the
petition that ministers have appointed the most senior ministry employees to the
Israel Land Council.
“A direct outcome of this decision is that Arabs are
excluded. Arab public employees do not reach the most senior levels of
government offices,” argues Aburabia.
The lack of Arab representation on
the Israel Land Council has, Aburabia claims, exacerbated what she dubs
“institutionalized discrimination” against Arab Israelis in terms of land and
“When a minority group that constitutes 20% of Israel’s
population is not represented in the Israel Land Council, they are prevented
from participating in crucial decisions that determine their [own] future,” she
The second petition, filed by ACRI, accuses the Airport Authority,
the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Transportation Ministry of “using
the ethnicity of Arab Israelis as a criterion during airport security
The petitioners have asked the court to order the government to
make the scope and level of security checks identical for both Jewish and Arab
In Wednesday’s hearing, the court is expected to debate the
state’s response to a court injunction demanding it explain why the security
procedure is different for Arab and Jewish Israelis.
In its response, the
state has refuted petitioners’ claims that Arab Israelis as a population are
subject to “sweeping security check criteria.”
All air travelers undergo
an individual security check, designed to reduce the threat of terror attacks to
a minimum, the state noted, adding that the threat of large-scale “mega-attacks”
that would potentially harm thousands of people as well as Israel’s national
interests has increased in recent years.
The level of checks are
determined by airport staff according to certain parameters, including
intelligence about specific threats, and there could be no “one size fits all”
procedure, the state said.
The third petition – which was filed by ACRI,
the Adalah Center for Arab Minority Rights and Prof. Oren Yiftachel, and asks
the court to annul the “Nakba Law” – will have its first hearing on Wednesday,
when the court will decide whether the petitioners have a case or
The law, which was passed in March, enables the finance minister to
withhold funds from municipalities and other government-funded bodies that
actively work to deny Israel’s existence as a Jewish, democratic state or that
mark Independence Day as a day of mourning.
Petitioners have claimed that
the bill violates constitutional rights and violates Arab Israelis’ freedom of
“The law forbids Arabs from marking their own history,”
Sawsan Zaher, an attorney at the Adalah Center, told The Jerusalem Post on
“[Commemorating the Nakba] does not mean Arabs want to destroy
the country; it just means we want to commemorate our history, our
The Knesset’s legal adviser, Eyal Yinon, said in a response
on Saturday night that the Nakba Law is completely legal and does not contradict
Israel’s Basic Laws because it simply prevents state funding for certain forms
of expression rather than prohibiting that expression by law.