'Appoint Israeli Arabs and women to Trajtenberg Committee'

Rights groups petition High Court, demanding changes in socioeconomic committee.

By
August 17, 2011 23:49
2 minute read.
Trajtenberg Committee 'Rothschild Team'

Trajtenberg Committee 'Rothschild Team' 311 . (photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)

A coalition of 13 women’s groups and Arab-Israeli organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice on Wednesday, demanding that judges order the newly-formed government Trajtenberg Committee to appoint women and specifically Arab women representatives.

The committee was appointed on August 8 by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the wake of countrywide housing protests. Headed by Professor Manuel Trajtenberg of the Higher Education Planning and Budget Committee, the committee is expected to come up with solutions to socioeconomic problems.

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However, the committee, which is made up of a team of 14 permanent members and an additional team of economic experts, completely excludes Arab-Israeli women, petitioners say.

The committee has already come under fire from Arab-Israeli organizations for failing to appoint Arabs to the permanent team. Only one Israeli Arab, Ayman Saif, sits on the panel.

The High Court petition, submitted by 13 organizations including Achoti, Itach Women Lawyers for Social Justice, Isha LeIsha and the Mossawa Center, claims that while Arab women constitute around 10 percent of Israeli society, they are almost entirely excluded from decision- making, including in the Trajtenberg Committee.

The petitioners have asked the High Court to issue an injunction suspending the committee’s activities until it appoints Arab women and women from a variety of professions to the committee.

Dorit Avramovich of Achoti said that the decision to petition the High Court came after Netanyahu failed to respond to a letter on the matter sent by 33 women’s groups and social organizations last week.

Attorney Anat Tahon-Ashkenazi of women’s group Itach said that the creation of the Trajtenberg Committee represented an important moment in the history of the state and was an opportunity to include voices and opinions from all of the country’s diverse population groups.

“There is a feeling that the committee could create an opportunity for an historic turning point, there was public expectation that the committee would represent a wide range of attitudes and opinions,” said Tahon-Ashkenazi.

The petitioners said that a minimum of five women would have been a significant and welcome move, because it would at least have brought women to the negotiating table.

The fact that Arab women are not represented at all on the committee means that this population is once again excluded from positions of power, they noted.

“The exclusion of such a large population group from the Committee is unthinkable and contrary to the conduct of a democratic society,” the petitioners said.

According to the petitioners, the committee’s failure to appoint women constitutes a violation of the law which states that any public committee or team established to formulate national policy will give appropriate expression for women from a variety of population groups.

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