ACRI Files High Court Lawsuit Against Restrictive Community on State Lands

CC-BY-SA: Chicago Israel Philanthropic Fund


Exclusive community of Carmit requires prospective residents who want to join the cooperative association to be be Jewish. Single parents also singled out.


Yesterday (September 17) the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed a petition in the High Court of Justice against the Israel Lands Authority (ILA), the Ministry of Housing and other public agencies, seeking an order to prohibit the Negev community of Carmit from continuing to market and allocate residential lots due to brazen discrimination on the basis of nationality and the illegal use of acceptance committees.


Carmit is a “villa community” in the Negev that is being built as an extension of the existing community of Meitar, and will ultimately house about 2500 families. It is being marketed as a prestigious community that offers residents quality of life and a private house with a garden for the price of a three-bedroom apartment in the center of the country, and all just an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv.


Despite the fact that the community is located on public lands and funded generously with public monies, all are not welcome to live there. In absolute contravention of the law, those interested in buying a house in Carmit must join the community’s “cooperative association” and pass the screening of an acceptance committee. The cooperative association’s bylaws, which were published on Carmit’s website, state explicitly that the cooperative association only accepts “Jewish citizens or permanent residents of Israel who keep the values of Judaism.” It also requires army service (or in certain circumstances, an official exemption) – a condition that discriminates against ultra-Orthodox Jews. The bylaws also state that single-parent families or unmarried people will only be accepted by a special majority.


The issue of discriminatory acceptance committees in small communities has garnered widespread criticism in recent years, both in the legal community and the public. Following a High Court of Justice decision, the Knesset in 2011 legislated the Acceptance Committee Law, which permits their use in small communities (up to 400 families) in the Negev and Galil. ACRI and other organizations have challenged the law and in the coming months an extended panel of nine High Court Justices will rule on the question of whether it is legal to maintain restricted communities on public lands.


In the present case, however, the community in question is far larger than 400 families, meaning that even the law in its present form does not permit the use of acceptance committees there.


Attorney Adi Nir Binyamini of the Clinic for Human Rights at Tel Aviv University, who is representing ACRI in the petition: “This petition deals with a severe deviation from the behavior we expect of state authorities. It constitutes a serious blow to equality, and a trampling of the law and of the High Court itself, which has explicitly prohibited discrimination on the basis of nationality or religion in the marketing of state lands. It is highly concerning that a host of state agencies participated in this discrimination for an extended period of time.”


Attorney Gil Gan Mor, Dircetor of the Right to Housing Project at ACRI: “The use of a ‘cooperative association’ and an artificial definition of the community as a “small community” are gimmicks intended to bring these illegal practices under the auspices of the Acceptance Committees Law – in order to conduct screening procedures and assure “high quality neighbors” by screening out Arabs, ultra-Orthordox, single parents, and whomever is perceived as undesirable.”


Related Materials

The Acceptance to Communities Law

Information on ACRI’s petition currently before the High Court against this petition

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Categories: Arab Citizens of Israel, Arab Minority Rights, Housing Rights, Racism and Discrimination, Social and Economic Rights, The Right to Equality

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