Knesset Roundup | October 29

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Discrimination in Favor of IDF Soldiers

 

Contributors to the State Bill, 2013 

Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs

Sunday, 27/10/2013 | Determining the Government’s Decision

 

ACRI’s Position: An earlier formulation of this bill sought to give preference in the allocation of a long line of public resources to those who serve in the military, perform national service, are disabled IDF veterans and to the families of fallen soldiers. The bill stated that the benefits for these groups would include preferential access to student dormitories, the allocation of state land for residential purposes and even civil service jobs. The bill also affected the private sector, where it makes clear that giving preference to these groups in hiring procedures, wages, or in offering services will not be considered unlawful discrimination (in direct opposition to the Law for Equal Opportunities in Employment). After the Attorney-General made clear that the law was unconstitutional, MK Yariv Levin withdrew the bill and is now presenting an amended version of the bill.
 
The only substantial positive amendment in the new bill is that it substantially narrows the groups that will receive state benefits and makes the link between benefits and service more direct and immediate. This new definition prevents wide and indefinite discrimination against certain groups in society for the benefit of a particular other group.
 
Exemptions from military service are given (to Arabs, ultra-orthodox Jews, the disabled, religious women and married women, etc.) in accordance with the law and based on settled political, historical and social agreements that have been accepted since the establishment of the state. This means that the bill is essentially punishing these groups financially and socially for operating in accordance with the law.
 
To read ACRI’s position paper on this bill, click here.

Rights for Refugees and Asylum-Seekers

 

Policy on Work Permits for asylum-seekers

Special Committee on Foreign Workers

Wednesday, 30/10/2013 | Committee Discussion

 

ACRI’s Position: The Israeli government does not currently grant work permits to asylum seekers, but turns a blind eye to employers who hire. This vague and confusing situation is pushing large numbers of asylum seekers into temporary and unreported employment and contributes to the crowding in disadvantaged neighborhoods, specifically South Tel Aviv. In order to alleviate the distress in these areas, the government has a duty to act quickly and invest resources in education, welfare, health, infrastructure, transport and housing for the general welfare of these residents.
 
Together with this, and as a possible solution to the plight of these residents, the government should grant work permits to all asylum seekers in Israel. The granting of work permits would assist in the dispersal of asylum seekers to different areas of the country in pursuit of jobs, would promote equitable and fair employment policies that would benefit all employees in the country and would contribute to the reduction of crime rates among this population that has arisen as a result of the poverty they currently find themselves in. This policy would provide immediate assistance to asylum seekers and residents of neighborhoods where asylum seekers are currently congregating, and would help protect the rights of all workers in the Israeli labor force.
 
To read more about ACRI’s work to protect the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers, click here.
 

Poverty Among Children

 

Report by the Central Bureau of Statistics:
40% of Israeli children at risk of poverty

Committee on the Rights of the Child

Monday, 21/10/2013 | Committee Discussion

 

ACRI’s Position: From the data published on October 21, 2013, it is clear that there has been a sharp increase over the last decade in the percentage of the population at risk of falling into poverty. The rate of poverty among children is double that in European countries. In 2011, the risk of an Israeli child falling into poverty stood at 40% compared to the average among European countries of 20%. This data was released prior to the economic decrees imposed by the government in the recent budget passed three months ago, decisions that are likely to exacerbate the situation of the poor in Israel.
 
Among the harsh decisions is a large and arbitrary cut in child allowances. The cuts are expected to push approximately 40,000 -50,000 additional children below the poverty line in addition to the 860,000 children who already live in poverty. The cuts will also have far-reaching effects on health, education and on the ability of these children to escape the cycle of poverty. They also run counter to Israel’s international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child according to which Israel must ensure that each child lives with dignity and with their developmental needs met. In recent years, child allowances have become a major source of livelihood for families living in poverty, in part because the total welfare benefits for the poor in Israel do not meet the basic subsistence needs of welfare recipients.

Elections Threshold Law

 

Proposed change to Israel’s Basic Law – The Government
Constitution, Law and Justice Committee

Monday – Wednesday, 21-24/10/2013

Preparation for second and third reading

 

ACRI’s Position: Discussions are continuing surrounding a proposed amendment to the Knesset’s Basic Law: The Government – which seeks among other measures, to raise the threshold for political parties seeking to be elected to the Knesset from 2% to 4%. ACRI’s position focuses on this aspect of the proposed law, and highlights concerns about the damage that would be caused to the representation of a range of minority groups in the Knesset if this change were adopted, primarily Arab and ultra-orthodox groups. ACRI believes that if the government decides to raise the election threshold, it must at the very least implement additional measures to ensure minority representation in the Knesset such as entrusting a certain number of seats for minority groups or implementing a lower threshold for certain groups. One possibility includes the ‘Serbian Law’ that allows for certain political parties to be recognized by the Central Election Commission as being exempt from the higher threshold owing to their representation of ethnic minorities.
 
To read ACRI’s position paper on the proposed change to the ‘Basic Law: The Government’, click here.

In the Spotlight:

 

Ha’aretz Editorial: Soldiers’ Benefits Mustn’t Come at the Expense of Israel’s Minorities

Monday, October 28

 

“The softened version of the Contributors to the State bill, which was approved Monday by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, was supposed to eliminate the worst of the discriminatory excesses of the original version of the draft law.”

“The Contributors to the State bill in effect constitutes systematic discrimination, in every walk of life, against entire population groups that are by law exempt from compulsory military or civilian national service. No democracy can accept such discrimination, especially when it affects already disadvantaged communities, namely Israeli Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews.”

“It is indeed worthy to reward those who contribute to the state through military or civilian service, but the way to do so is not by discriminating against other groups. The cabinet and [MK] Levin must draft a new bill that would recognize the contribution of veterans, such as paying higher salaries to soldiers during service. That is the only way the benefits offered in this bill will outweigh its costs.”

 

 

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Categories: Anti-Democratic Initiatives, Democracy and Civil Liberties, Racism and Discrimination, Refugees and Asylum-Seekers, Social and Economic Rights, The Right to Equality, Welfare

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