A panel of seven High Court justices is due to consider on Tuesday whether to rule on petitions filed three years ago by human rights groups, or whether to reject the petition because the government decision to which it applied has since expired.
The organizations - the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel - petitioned the court against Israel Lands Authority (ILA) Decision 952, which offered in 2003 to lease at 10 percent of the leasing fee land for housing to
discharged IDF soldiers or anyone who had performed at least one year of national service. The decision applied to communities of less than 500 residents in national priority areas A and B in Galilee and the Negev, and expired in 2005.
According to ACRI lawyer Auni Banna, "the practical outcome of the decision is to give preference to Jews over Arabs, regarding whom military service does not apply, in allocating precious land resources." Banna wrote that the petition was aimed at seeing to it that land was allocated on an equal basis and that the principle of just distribution was upheld.
In her latest response to the petition, attorney Orit Koren - the state's representative - told the court that the ILA decision went into effect on March 23, 2003, had expired two years later and had not been renewed. Therefore, the dispute between the state and the petitioners had become theoretical.
The petitioners have nevertheless insisted that the hearings continue and that the court rule on the principle of the matter. They argued that because of the transitional nature of many ILA decisions it was difficult for petitioners to challenge them because they expired before the court could hand down a ruling on the matter.