AG: Developer cannot refuse to sell residence to Arabs

Mandelblit's brief supports rulings from two levels of lower courts which fined the developer, Meital Engineering and Services, NIS 20,000 for refusing to sell a residential unit to an Arab family.

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February 10, 2019 21:03
1 minute read.
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit . (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

 
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A developer who is marketing residential units to the public from land it acquired from the state is prohibited from discriminating against Arabs or other minorities, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit wrote in a legal brief to the High Court of Justice on Sunday.

Mandelblit’s brief supports rulings from two levels of lower courts which fined Meital Engineering and Services NIS 20,000 for refusing to sell a residential unit to an Arab family due to their ethnicity.

Like the lower courts, the attorney-general said that even though the developer is a private company, the use of state land and marketing to the general public create a prohibition against ethnic discrimination in selling residential units.

Meital has appealed to the High Court to eliminate the fine and overturn the lower courts’ rulings. The High Court had sought Mandelblit’s view on the issue before the ruling.

The Arab couple’s roots are in the North, but they have been living in the Jerusalem area. They sought to buy a residence in a new project in Pisgat Ze’ev, which was accessible to their child with special needs.

Until this case, there were prior rulings that the state was prohibited from discrimination in marketing and selling housing, but no specific ruling had been issued by the attorney-general over what obligations are imposed on a private developer who markets state land.

In August 2017, the High Court struck down attempts at discriminatory housing decisions against Arabs in Afula, but a statement by the Justice Ministry said that the High Court’s decision here would be widely applicable and have greater long-term consequences.

In 2000, the issue arose indirectly in the Kaadan case, which allowed an Israeli Arab couple to buy in a northern Israel Jewish cooperative settlement. But even as the High Court imposed certain obligations against such discrimination, it avoided addressing the issue of a private developer who sells public land, like the situation in this case.

In 2014, the High Court did not strike down the Acceptance Committee Law. That law prohibits obvious discrimination in housing in yishuv kehilati (rural residential communities), but was opposed by human rights groups since it allowed space for some discrimination against Arabs, as long as the official reasons as to why the couple was rejected did not mention discrimination. recycle.

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