high court 224.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
An amendment to the Income Tax Act that gives tax benefits to several
communities, not one of which is Arab, is discriminatory and therefore
unconstitutional, the High Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday.
rules: schools cannot discriminate against students
decision came in response to petitions against Amendment 146 that were submitted
by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Adalah – The Legal Center for
Arab Minority Rights in Israel in 2005.
The court said the state should,
in the context of its 2011-2012 fiscal legislation, change the legislation to
eliminate discriminatory elements.
The court gave the state two months to
initiate the process and ordered it to report its progress by November
Amendment 146 originally gave tax exemptions to communities located
on the border with the Gaza Strip, but the list quickly expanded to include more
communities . The petitioners claimed that the provision of significant tax
breaks to communities without clear criteria violates the right to equality, and
pointed to the fact that not one of the communities enjoying the benefits is
In the ruling, the court wrote, “The government and the Knesset
avoided – in a systematic and longstanding manner – the formulation of a
solution to the issues outlined in the petitions; this was in direct
contravention of the positions taken by representatives of the
Adalah attorney Sawsan Zaher said, “This ruling is
very important for the advancement of socioeconomic equality in Israel. The
decision clearly states that the provision of tax benefits to certain
communities is discriminatory, because the cabinet did not consider principles
of equality in formulating the criteria for receipt of these benefits,
specifically to include Arab communities, which suffer from widespread poverty,
especially the Beduin communities in the Negev.
“This is not the first
time that the High Court has ruled against the discrimination against Arab
communities in the allocation of economic benefits; three years ago, the High
Court ruled against the exclusion of Arab communities in the categorization of
communities into national priority areas (which receive benefits), but the
cabinet has refused to implement the ruling,” Zaher said.
ACRI attorney Auni Banna, “Amendment 146 is an attempt to anchor in law
provision of tax benefits to friends and allies, and not to those who
them. This state of affairs violates the basic principles of equality
administration, acutely harming the Arab communities whose socioeconomic
is the worst among the communities in Israel. Following a long period in
the High Court exhibited exceptional patience toward the government, we
the court’s decision that elucidates to the cabinet that the amendment
act is unconstitutional and it must be amended or canceled altogether.”