Ministerial Panel on Or Commission Issues Recommendations

The ministerial committee assigned to study the Or Commission report issued its recommendations on Thursday, including a call to establish a governmental authority for promoting the Arab sector, the integration of Arab youth in (non-military) national service programs, and the inauguration of a national "Solidarity Day" for Jews and Arabs.

The recommendations were presented at a press conference Thursday afternoon by the panel's chairman, Justice Minister Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and Police Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishki, and will be submitted to the government during the coming days. Lapid said, "We are committed to reforms that will give the Arabs a feeling that they are equal citizens, not just on paper."

Adalah (The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel), which represented the families of the 13 Arabs killed during the violent events of October 2000 that prompted the establishment of the Or Commission, called the ministerial committee's recommendations "anachronistic." The organization said it "assails the committee for its disparaging attitude toward the lives of Arab citizens in Israel," Adalah said.

In particular, the organization complained that "nearly four years after the events, no indictments have been filed against those responsible for the killing and no investigations have been initiated." The Or Commission, which submitted its findings nine months ago, had recommended opening ten criminal investigations against policemen involved in the clashes. Lapid noted that the head of the ministry unit responsible for investigating police officers told the committee in April that the unit was "still reviewing" the Or Commission material.

Adalah also attacked the Lapid committee for failing to address allocation of lands to Arab citizens.

Tourism Minister Benny Elon, a dissenting member of the ministerial committee, said that he disagrees with the "logic" behind the panel's recommendations, calling them "list a bonuses" that constitute "an invitation by the State of Israel for the next rebellion."

Aharonishki emphasized that the police has worked to implement the lessons of October 2000 in various areas, including police training and operational practices. The committee also formulated a document defining the respective responsibilities of the police and Shin Bet security service. Both Aharonishki and Lapid cited this document as one of the committee's important contributions.