MK Tibi: Israel Is Democratic for Jews, but Jewish for Arabs

Panel debates bills to let some communities to handpick residents, prompting cries of systemic racism.

The Knesset Law and Constitution Committee conducted a heated debate Tuesday on two parallel law proposals that would enable certain communities in Israel to handpick their residents.

The proposals come amid controversy over a number of Jewish communities in the north who have refused entry to Arabs wishing to reside there.

The laws proposed by MKs Israel Hasson and Shai Hermesh (Kadima) and the committee's chairman MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) circumvent the High Court decision that the reception committees are illegal.

MK Ahmed Tibi condemned the bills, which passed a preliminary vote a few weeks ago, claiming they would only allow systemic racism to take hold.

"This law is like pissing in mid-air," said Tibi. "Racism is starting to be legislated in the statute book. There is an influx of racist law proposals; you aren't even ashamed of yourselves."

"This country is Jewish and democratic: Democratic towards Jews, and Jewish toward Arabs," Tibi said, adding that that if Israel's declaration of independence was to be voted on in the Knesset today, it would not pass.

The proposals were actually meant to enable communal settlements, like moshavim, to disqualify candidates on grounds of economic status or incompatibility with the settlement's lifestyle. The debate quickly developed, however, to the fact that the committees would be able to prevent Arab landowners from building on community land.