6 January 2010
By Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Correspondent
The Knesset on Wednesday rejected by a majority vote a bill proposed by Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra'am Ta'al) which would enforce equal distribution of land between Jewish and Arab citizens.
Before it was brought to Knesset, the bill had already been rejected Sunday by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.
Tibi's proposal was intended to counter a bill passed two weeks ago which states that reception committees of Israeli communities can decide who will reside in their towns. One consequence of that bill is that Israeli Arabs would not be able to live in those towns if the reception committees decide so.
On Sunday, Tibi lambasted the ministerial panel as proving that Israel had proven "yet again" that it preferred to "avoid the principle of civil equality."
The government failed at the challenge I placed before it, and that saddens me," Tibi declared.
The bill's authors stressed the importance of it in an explanation to the ministerial committee.
"Since the foundation of the state, the Israel Lands Administration is solely used as Jewish land administration. The director of the Israel Lands Administration has used all the tactics, with the help of the Jewish Agency, to allocate state land only to Jews. Despite the bitter attempt over the decades, not even one Arab town has been established since the state's foundation."
"Therefore a bill must be passed which stipulates that the Israel Lands Administration will serve all the state's citizens without discrimination on religion or nationality, and will promise an equal allocation of land to better the Arab population of Israel."