Beersheba Protest 311.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Attorneys at the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) announced plans on
Sunday to submit a draft Basic Law on Social Rights, said Prof. Manuel
Trajtenberg, the leader of the committee appointed by the government to discuss
social and economic issues.
The country’s Basic Laws were first
legislated in 1950 by the First Knesset, and were initially intended to form the
chapters of a future constitution. Though that has not yet happened, the
Basic Laws still form the basis of the country’s constitutional law.
Protesters can’t decide on leadership as big march nears
Mass social protests resume across the country
1992, the Knesset passed two additional Basic Laws dealing with human rights –
the Basic Law of Human Dignity and the Basic Law of Freedom of Occupation, but
there is no law that deals with social rights.
ACRI spokeswoman Dana Bar
said the social justice protests indicate that the country’s existing
legislation is “incomplete.”
“We believe that there is now an historic
opportunity to develop a broad and comprehensive Basic Law, which will enshrine
our social rights on a constitutional basis. Social rights have never
received the legal status they deserve, and in the last decades they have been
violated in the most blatant way possible,” said Bar. “Their continued
forfeiture is what has sparked the fire of the protests.”
ACRI’s move to
push the draft legislation came after tens of thousands of Israelis took part in
several protests on Saturday night, as the social issues movement resumed in
Rallies were held in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Rishon Lezion, Bikat
Ono, Katzrin, Jaffa, Harish and Tiberias. Organizers, citing what they said were
police figures, said more than 20,000 people took part in the Tel Aviv event on
Ibn Gvirol Street.
“We hope that the state will pick up the gauntlet the
Israeli public has thrown to it and finally complete the historic task of
anchoring human rights in such a way that they fix the necessary standard of
basic social rights for all of us,” Bar added.
The proposed Basic Law on
Social Rights, which was drafted by attorney Tali Nir, states that education,
housing, employment, welfare and food security are not luxuries but basic
The draft Basic Law further stipulates that Israelis be afforded
the right to a “dignified existence,” which includes access to “housing that is
adequate, affordable and accessible, and protected against arbitrary eviction,
with access to services and infrastructure.”
Among other things, ACRI’s
proposal also includes stipulations that Israelis’ right to strike, to welfare
assistance and unemployment benefit, as well as education and healthcare, should
also be enshrined in law.
Nir also criticized the existing Basic Laws for
giving a “decisive weight” to the economic interests of individual property
owners but ignoring the rights of others, and so has created an “asymmetric
constitutional status in Israel, which is in real danger of upsetting the
balance between the poor and powerful in society.
“[The Basic Laws] do
not recognize the rights of those who are not property owners in terms of human
dignity or social rights in work, education, health, housing and social
welfare,” said Nir in the proposal. “For those who took to the streets demanding
‘social justice’ and for large parts of Israeli society, these are the major
themes in their lives.”Ben Hartman contributed to this report.