dorit beinisch 311 Ariel Jerozolimski.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The High Court of Justice on Wednesday ordered the state to report within 60
days on plans for fair representation of women and Arab Israelis on the Israel
Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, who presided over
the hearing together with Justices Eliezer Rivlin and Miriam Naor, said that
Arabs and women are underrepresented in senior government posts.
hearing was in response to a petition filed by the Association for Civil Rights
in Israel and Itach Women Lawyers for Social Justice, which complains that Arab
Israelis and women are inadequately represented on the the ILC, the body that
sets policy for the Israel Lands Authority.
As such, the ILC is in
violation of legal directives on equality, including a High Court ruling that
Arabs must be represented on the council, the petitioners argue.
the second petition that ACRI has filed with the High Court regarding Arab
representation on the ILC.
As a result of the first petition, over 10
years ago, two Arab members were appointed to the council. However, following a
2009 reform of the ILC, the law was amended such that in addition to 10
representatives from JNF – who are all Jewish – the remaining 12 council members
would be appointed from government offices.
Attorney Rawia Aburabia of
ACRI’s Arab Minority Rights Department argues that the problem partly stems from
the fact that ministers have adopted a policy of appointing the director-general
of each ministry to the ILC.
The government’s policy excludes Arab
Israelis who do not reach senior positions in government ministries, Aburabia
said. Only 6 percent of civil servants are Arab Israelis, although they
constitute a fifth of Israel’s population. According to a 2010 parliamentary
committee report, only 2.55 percent of ILA employees are Arab
However, attorney Sharon Rothschenker, for the state, said the
state believes appointing ministry director-generals to the ILC is legitimate
and consistent with the law.
The state also noted that a woman had
recently been appointed as director-general of the Environmental Protection
Ministry and therefore now serves on the ILC.
However, Aburabia responded
that this is hardly adequate.
“One woman [council member] is far from the
principle of fair representation,” she said.
Justice Miriam Naor pointed
out that the government’s decision to appoint ministry director- generals to the
ILC is not actually prescribed by law.
“[The state] should also consider
the extent to which that decision takes into account the issue of fair
representation,” Naor said.
The justices also said that the principle of
fair representation should extend to the civil service in general, and not just
to the ILC.
“The [High Court] ruling says that the principle of fair
representation must also be expressed in the appointment of [ministry]
director-generals,” noted Beinisch.