rivlin - Emil Salman - November 29 2010
Rivlin. Wants to limit a proposal that could enable discrimination. Photo by Emil Salman
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Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin prevented MKs yesterday from voting on a controversial law that would enable residential committees to decide whether or not to allow families to live in their towns.

Rivlin hopes to ease the criteria that critics say could allow such committees to reject prospective residents due to their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other factors, regardless of existing anti-discrimination laws.

The critics say the committees could target groups such as Israeli Arabs, Ethiopian immigrants, same-sex couples or single-parent families.

Rivlin wants to limit the committees to operating only in communities of less than 500 families.

Members of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee said Rivlin had no right to attempt to go over their heads after refusing to attend the meetings at which they discussed the bill.

"The speaker is trying to create an option that bypasses the committee and to formulate a new draft for the law, even though it has already been drafted on the basis of existing standards," a committee member said. "The committee has held more than 10 meetings to which Rivlin was invited but did not take part."

Rivlin plans to change the existing version of the bill even though committee members have concluded their deliberations regarding the second and third readings.

The Knesset speaker intervened after receiving negative feedback about the bill from Jewish leaders abroad, Foreign Ministry officials and Israel Democracy Institute fellows.