Preference in Civil Service to Those who Served in Military

soldiers-with-presents-cc-by-n0nick-via-flickr

This bill stipulates that when two applicants for a civil service position have the same qualifications, preference will be given to an applicant that served in the Israeli military.
Tabled by: MK Hamad Amar (Yisreal Beitenu) in 2009
 
According to this government-backed bill, officially titled “Civil Service Law (Appointments) – 2002, (Proposed Amendment – Affirmative Action),” Israeli citizens who have completed military or national service will be given preference when applying for positions in the civil service. The bill stipulates that when two applicants for a civil service position have the same qualifications, preference will be given to an applicant that served in the Israeli military.
 
The bill discriminates against ethnic minorities and other individuals who are legally exempt from military service (e.g. religious women, Arab citizens of Israel, handicapped persons) and stands in contradiction to the value of equal access to employment. If passed, it would harm various minority groups in Israel, groups that already suffer discrimination in employment and under-representation in the civil service.
 
This bill has garnered opposition from many human rights organizations, including ACRI and other organizations promoting equal rights for women, Ethiopian Jews, Arab citizens of Israel, and handicapped persons. The Ministry of Justice, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, and even the legal advisers of the Knesset Constitution Committee – have all voiced their opposition to this bill. Despite this fierce opposition, on 22 May 2011, the Knesset’s Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee has approved this bill in preparation for its first reading.
 
After hearing the many objections to the bill, the Chairperson of the Constitution Committee, MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beitenu) announced that the bill will not relate to immigrants who immigrated after the legal draft age, internal tenders (for persons who are already in the civil service), and people with, as he put it, “real handicaps” (meaning people who were exempt from service for physical handicaps, not mental illnesses). As such, the bill will target Arab citizens of Israel, Orthodox Jews, women, and persons living with mental handicaps.
 
According to ACRI, this bill will deepen the discrimination of groups that already suffer from employment discrimination – thereby undermining the efforts that the State of Israel is making to engage these very groups in the labor market.
 
However, in early June 2011, a very rare measure taken by Israel’s Attorney-General, Yehuda Weinstein, against this bill. The Attorney-General sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, asking him to stop this bill. Attorney-General Weinstein’s letter reiterated the claims stated in ACRI’s position paper on this bill, and noted that “giving preference to one group over another in the distribution of limited resources [...] places other groups in a lower status, first and foremost Arabs, handicapped persons, and ultra-Orthodox Jews.” Following the Attorney General’s Intervention, this bill is not likely to be further promoted with government support.
 
26 January 2011: Bill passed preliminary reading.
22 May 2011: The Knesset’s Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee has approved this bill in preparation for its first reading.
 
Status: Following the intervention of the Attorney-General, the bill has been frozen for the time being.

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