Following a petition by flagship NIF grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and NIF-funded women's group Itach-Maki, the Supreme Court has ordered the state to ensure that women and Arabs are fairly represented on the Israel Land Authority (ILA) Council. Since 2009, this committee has been overwhelmingly dominated by Jewish men. Judge Asher Gronish ruled that "the lack of representation of Arab citizens and the under-representation of women is unacceptable."
The petition, which was filed in 2010, demands the appointment of women and Arabs as permanent members of the ILA Council at a ratio that ensures fair representation of these populations. The ILA controls 93% of the land in Israel, and has huge input into land use decisions. There is only one woman, the director-general of the Ministry of Justice, and no Arabs currently serving on the ten-member Council.
Itach-Maaki Attorney Anat Tahon-Ashkenazi said: "The Israel Lands Authority is one of the most powerful public bodies in the country, and the decisions of its governing council have a direct bearing on our lives - whether on issues of planning, housing costs, or even our health. In the management of a body like this, there must include representation of the entire population and the different interests within it."
ACRI Attorney Auni Banna, who represented the petitioners, added: "It appears the Justices also reasoned that consenting to the state's attempts to avoid its obligations would create an opening for systematic violation of the law and perpetuate the exclusion of minority and disadvantaged groups from decision-making centers."
Photo Credit: "General view Mount Carmel Holy Land (i.e. Israel)" From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.