Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni both oppose
all or part of the bill approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on
Sunday for granting benefits in employment, higher education, buying land and
other areas to recent IDF veterans and active reservists.
parts of the bill were clearly unconstitutional and parts raised questions about
their constitutionality, leaving an overall worry that the bill could lead to
racial and religious discrimination.
The attorney-general specifically
said that the provisions regarding employment benefits was unconstitutional,
whereas Livni opposed the bill in its entirety.
Weinstein and Livni’s
announcement could leave the bills passage or its ability to withstand a
possible future petition to the High Court of Justice in
Despite Weinstein and Livni’s opposition, coalition chairman
Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu), who proposed the bill, called it “the first step to
true equality in the burden, giving benefits to those who contributed their
time, effort and strength to the country.”
Ronen Shoval, director for the
Zionist education NGO Im Tirzu, said “the time has come for the State of Israel
to truly appreciate those who contribute to it. This bill will allow for the
creation of true equality between different populations in the country, because
it ignores what differentiates between us and treats us all equally through what
unites us – contribution to the State of Israel.”
However, some called
the legislation discriminatory, as most Israeli Arabs do not serve in the IDF or
“The ministers made racism and discrimination more
permanent through legislation,” Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On stated. “I support
rewarding army veterans for their service, but this bill does not have any
affirmative action; rather, it establishes criminal discrimination against weak
groups in society, whom the law exempts from army service.”
Gal-On, the population that completes IDF service is heterogeneous, not
discriminated against and does not need affirmative action.
Adalah – The
Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent a letter to ministers
asking them to vote against Levin’s bill.
“Benefits for whoever served in
the army or national service harm Arab citizens, who for political and
historical reasons do not serve in the army. Therefore, the committee’s members
should stop this bill from being authorized,” the letter reads.
legislation approved by the ministerial committee is a second version of Levin’s
proposal, written after the attorney- general called the original
discriminatory. Levin worked with Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon in order to
court broader support in the coalition.
According to the legislation,
those who served may receive preference in hiring, ordering and receiving
services, acceptance to college dormitories and buying land.
also applies to those who did civilian services and those who asked to serve in
the IDF but were rejected.
The new version of the bill applies to a
smaller group of people than the original, and is therefore less discriminatory,
according to Yinon.
The benefits would only apply for seven years after
finishing service, or to someone who did over 14 days of reserve duty in the
previous year. In addition, preference of soldiers would only apply in cases
when it does not go against existing laws prohibiting
When land is being sold, the person selling it may prefer
someone who served, but is not required to do so.