A-G asks PM to block 'discriminatory' Israel Beiteinu bill

Bill would give preference to those who served in the IDF, completed national service in being hired to the civil service.

Weinstein 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Weinstein 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein is the most recent high-ranking official to come out against an Israel Beiteinu bill seeking to give preference to those who served in the IDF or completed National Service for civil service jobs.
Channel 2 news revealed on Thursday a letter sent from Weinstein to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in which he calls the bill discriminatory and asks him to block its legislation.
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“The bill creates discrimination that cannot be constitutionally justified. It is targeted at populations that already suffer from deep discrimination, like the Arab population and people with disabilities, and is accompanied by a feeling of insult and humiliation, which also constitutes injury to human rights,” Weinstein wrote.
According to Channel 2, Weinstein wrote the letter a week ago, but the Prime Minister’s Office has yet to respond to it.
In the letter, Weinstein wrote that even though the government formally opposed the bill, it was doing nothing to block its passage through the legislative process, with coalition members voting in favor of it.
“Under these circumstances, I am approaching you to do your best to stop the bill’s progress and have the members of Knesset vote against it,” wrote Weinstein, who rarely intervenes directly in the legislative process and whose job description includes providing legal cover for the government’s actions.
The bill first came before the Ministerial Legislative Committee in July 2010, where it was passed, but due to appeals by then cabinet ministers Yitzhak Herzog and Avishai Braverman, the motion was frozen and the government was formally against it. Despite this, the bill went to the plenum as a private members bill and was passed provisionally 43-16.
The bill is currently awaiting a vote before second and third reading in the Constitution Law and Justice Committee.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin also spoke out against the bill on Tuesday, saying that “turning the civil service into a political weapon will undermine it.”
“Those who finish army and national service can be rewarded with housing, scholarships and grants – but they should not receive benefits that harm other populations and the civil service,” Rivlin said.
MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) said the proposed bill is “meant to block Arabs from the civil service,” and that it will harm “Christians, Muslims, Druse women and haredim.”
Tibi explained that only 7 percent of civil service employees are Arabs, a fact that he called “embarrassing” in light of the fact that 20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs.
Knesset legal advisor Eyal Yinon has also attacked the bill, saying he could not defend it if it was ever challenged in the High Court.
Israel Beiteinu said in response that they respect the Attorney-General’s decision.
“The law is meant to correct the unjust situation, in which those who gave their best years and endangered their lives for the state, do not get preference in civil service jobs,” a party spokesman said. “Israel Beiteinu plans to continue to promote the law.”
Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) said he plans to meet with Weinstein to discuss the possibility of changing and promoting the bill.
In recent months, the Knesset has been challenged repeatedly in the court over bills it passed that were accused of being discriminatory. Most recently, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel petitioned the High Court over a bill approving acceptance committees for rural settlements. The bill’s opponents said it aimed to prevent minority populations from living in the communities.