New regulations approved earlier this summer, but yet to be formally inaugurated
by the government, could change the whole Israel experience for hundreds of
tourists with disabilities.
According to Ahiya Kamara, head of the
Commission for Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities, the new regulations
are aimed at rental car agencies and bus companies that provide transport to
tourists. Under the new arrangement, which will be implemented in stages over
the coming years, transportation companies will be forced to ensure they have
accessible and appropriate vehicles for wheelchair-bound individuals and others
Kamara said the goal was to address the fact that both
locals and tourists with physical disabilities are today not able to rent a car
at most outlets and are unable to travel in many rented buses or
He said the move was another step towards “promoting
accessibility and inclusion for all people in Israel with disabilities.” Last
week, at the fifth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention
on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Israeli government formally
ratified the convention that it signed in 2007.
The new transport
regulations will allow people with disabilities set to visit Israel the chance
to notify rental car agencies and bus companies five days in advance of their
need for a specially equipped vehicle. The companies will then be obliged to
supply such vehicles or come under investigation or eventual prosecution by the
commission for not complying with the law. The rental costs of these vehicles
must be the same as for individuals without disabilities.
agencies with fleets larger than 100 cars and all bus companies will have seven
months from the time the government issues the notice to prepare their vehicles
for people with disabilities.
The terms of the new arrangement were
decided by a mixture of representatives from the commission, rental car agencies
and bus companies, with input from people with
Representatives of the commission estimate that all the
necessary arrangements to provide vehicles for people with disabilities will be
in place by 2014 at the latest.
“The commission will oversee the
implementation of these regulations and see that they are enforced according to
the law,” said Kamara, urging anyone who feels they have been discriminated
against because of their disability to lodge a complaint with the
“We ask that anyone experiencing discrimination related to
people with disabilities contact the commission and we will take care of its
appeal,” he said.
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