Non-Olympic sports federations petitioned the High Court of Justice on Tuesday to be included on a committee recommending how to divide state lottery proceeds among local sports.

Ayelet, which represents some 30 non-Olympic sports federations, petitioned the High Court of Justice in the wake of Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat's recent decision not to include its federations on a panel reappraising criteria for allocating money from the Israel Sports Betting Council. These allocations comprise over 80 percent of the money given to Israeli sport, according to the council.

Ayelet asked the court to order Livnat to appoint at least one representative of non-Olympic sports to the public committee. The umbrella organization represents sports federations of wushu, bridge, roller skating, jiu jitsu, hang gliding, gliding, Alpine skiing, sport climbing, paragliding, surfing, lawn bowls, bowling, squash, skydiving, sambo, karate, cricket, orienteering, tug-of-war, (American ) football, softball, water skiing, petanque, flying, ultra-lights, saloon dance, kendo, budo and kickboxing.

Ayelet asks that Livnat be ordered to show cause for her decision to set up the committee without representation from non-Olympic sports, and be prohibited from convening the committee until the court hands down its decision.

"Against the attorney general's directive, and without seeking advice, Livnat decided on the makeup of the committee, most of whose members are people closely associated with Olympic sporting branches, and avoided appointing to the committee a representative of non-Olympic sports," the petition alleged.

'Moral and legal duty'

"The committee's makeup does not befit the moral and legal duty to maintain balance and equality in public committees. Livnat decided on a makeup contrary to the fair mix dictated in the Sports Law. It is unbalanced, harms equality, could be suspected of conflict of interests, and discriminates against non-Olympic sports." Ayelet claims that despite repeated appeals to Livnat that she uphold the attorney general's instructions - to discuss the issue with all concerned parties prior to appointing a public committee - her reply failed to address the issue at hand. "The reply we received from Livnat was very strange," the petition reads, "as was Livant's reply to [betting council chairman] Zach Fishbein was - to use an understatement - strange," according to the petition.

Surprising petition

On June 19 Livnat appointed seven members to the panel, all of whom hold positions in various Olympic sports' organizing bodies. The petition states that while she was legally obligated to hold advisory meetings with all concerned parties before deciding on the committee's members, Livnat sought only Fishbein's opinion "in order to fulfill her obligation, when she was not really interested in the contents of the reply since she had already decided and had already published her decision, as if she remembered the attorney general's directive only after the event. She did not do so with any intention to act on the reply, but simply to be seen to be following the directive."

A spokesman for the Culture and Sports Ministry replied: "Ayelet's petition is somewhat surprising and hard to understand in light of the fact that the dictates of the sports betting law explicitly state that appointments to a public committee will be based on their abilities and not according to their affiliation with any particular sport. This is, among other things, to ensure that there is no discrimination against sporting federations which are not included in the committee, since there is no way to include all the various sporting branches."

The spokesman added that "the previous committee to set the allocation criteria, the Borowitz committee, also was comprised of nine professionals. There was no representation for the sporting federations [Maccabi, Hapoel, Beitar and Elitzur] and none for the non-Olympic sports, either. However, representatives of Ayelet will be invited to present their position to the committee members, and will be taken seriously. The Culture and Sports Ministry places great trust in the committee's professionalism and its ability to draw up the best criteria that will benefit every sporting branch in Israel."