(photo credit: Illustrative photo/Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusale)
The Haifa District Court is set to hear a petition on Tuesday by civil rights
groups, which asks the court to order the cancellation of land tenders won by
two groups to build 196 housing units for religious Jews in Acre.
petitioners contend that the land tender was discriminatory because it had been
promoted only to religious Jewish groups.
The Association for Civil
Rights in Israel (ACRI) announced the petition against the Israel Lands
Authority and the Construction and Housing Ministry on Sunday – having filed it
together with Alyatar, a nonprofit that promotes multiculturalism in Acre, and
Haifa University’s Legal Clinic for Human Rights.
In February, two
nonprofit groups – the Construction of a Religious Neighborhood in Acre and the
Development and Construction of Acre – won two tenders to build housing units in
The tenders permit Construction of a Religious
Neighborhood to build 153 detached cottage-style housing units, and Development
and Construction to build 43 units.
According to ACRI, Construction of a
Religious Neighborhood worked in partnership with a real estate company, Bemuna
– Housing for the Religious Public.
Bemuna’s website says it has been
active since 1995 in establishing housing for the National Religious
Bemuna declined to comment on Sunday, saying they are not
named in the petition.
The Acre petition comes after ACRI filed a similar
petition in the High Court of Justice last year, over another housing project
for religious Jews that Bemuna is marketing in Jaffa. ACRI argued that the Jaffa
project was also discriminatory, because it was marketed only to religious
Although the High Court rejected that petition, the justices said
that the state must include a clause in every future land tender stating that
the ILA can cancel tenders if housing is marketed in a discriminatory
The petitioners say that the tenders in Acre included such a
clause. They have asked the Haifa District Court to issue an interim injunction
ordering the ILA to enforce that clause.
According to the petition, the
clause in question states that the “winner [of the tender] agrees to refrain
from discrimination when marketing [housing] units” and declares that if the
winner violates this commitment, “the ILA and the [Housing and Construction]
Ministry may withdraw the tender.”
The petition also comes after ACRI
attorney Gil Gan- Mor wrote a letter to the ILA in February, asking that the
winning tender be revoked on the grounds that both organizations only market the
housing projects to religious Jews and not to other populations.
two tender winners] have broken the law by marketing the apartments in a
discriminatory manner, on the basis of nationality and religion,” Gan-Mor said
He said the decision to award the tenders to these groups was “a
serious violation of the right to equality that has no justification, when
public land should serve the public who so desperately need housing
Gan-Mor then called on the ILA to enforce equal marketing of
the projects to all sectors of the public.
The ILA did not respond by
press time to a request by The Jerusalem Post
director of Alyatar, said the project is “just one of many examples of
discrimination against Arab residents in terms of housing.”
that veteran Arab residents of Acre’s Old City are “cleared out and then
prevented from living in dignity in other neighborhoods,” adding that many of
the city’s apartment blocks have “reception committees” that prevent Arabs from
purchasing apartments there.
“This creates a feeling of discrimination,
that we are second- class citizens,” he said.
The Haifa District Court
will convene a hearing on the petition at 3 p.m. Tuesday.