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Palestinian rights group demands end to Israeli 'neighbourhood apartheid'

Palestinian citizens of Israel are systematically discriminated against [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 June, 2019

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A rights group for Palestinian citizens of Israel Adalah has demanded an end to a practice that stops Palestinian families from living in areas within Israel.

A rights group for Palestinian citizens of Israel has demanded Israel stops the enforcement of illegal segregation against Palestinians across the country, it was reported this week.

Dozens of Jewish-majority populations within Israel have been rejecting residents based on a criterion of maintaining a "social and cultural fabric", leaving out Palestinian citizens of Israel to reside in a number of towns.

The move, which is condemned as a violation of Admissions Committees Law, has perpetuated an "apartheid system" within Israel and has left out minority groups from growing pockets of Jewish-only areas.

Admissions committees in communities of 400 households or less, however, have found a legal loophole in which they are authorised by Israeli law to reject applicants for residency based on the criteria of "social suitability" and the "social and cultural fabric" of the town.

It was also found that at least 24 communities in the Galilee and Negev regions practice segregation even if communities have more than 400 households, something that violates Israeli law.

'Stop this racist practice'

Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel on Wednesday demanded that the admissions committees to stop this "racist" practice.

The rights group says these communities are operating in severe violation of the Admissions Committees Law demanding to stop their work and be prohibited from receiving state lands.

"The purported 'social and cultural fabric' of these 24 communities is nothing more than a fiction designed to blur the main purpose of the admissions committee: the legalized implementation of racist segregation," said Attorney Myssana Morany, coordinator of Adalah's Land and Planning Rights Unit. 

"The creation of communities off [limits] to Arab citizens is part of a comprehensive policy aimed at reducing the living space of Arab citizens in general and Judaising the Galilee and the Naqab (Negev) in particular. Even worse, it has now been revealed that Israeli authorities are actually operating these discriminatory committees in violation of Israeli law."

Systematic segregation

Palestinian citizens of Israel form around 20 percent of the population, the descendants of those who managed to stay during the mass displacement of the Nakba in 1948.

Earlier this month the mayor of a northern Israeli town on Saturday joined dozens of Jewish residents who protested against the sale of a house to a Palestinian family.

Mayor Avi Elkabetz, who is mayor of Afula, claimed his attendance to be a private affair, despite going to the protest along with his deputy, Shlomo Malihi, and other members of the city council.

Elkabetz has participated in similar protests in the past, including during his campaigning when he demonstrated against the sale of homes in Afula to Palestinian citizens of Israel and ran under a slogan calling for the town to maintain its Jewish character.

Another council member, Itai Cohen, said the movement to keep Palestinians from living in the area.

"We don't have a problem cooperating with Arab businesses, but we won't have them live here. We stand by the residents in this protest... Afula must remain a Jewish city," Cohen said.

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