Knesset Panel Approves Controversial Bill Allowing Towns to Reject Residents

Israeli Arab MKs al-Sana and Tibi walk out on committee discussion, calling it a 'criminal law' aiming to prevent Arabs from joining Israeli towns.

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The Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill which gives the right to absorption committees of small communities in Israel to reject candidates if they do not meet specific criteria.

The bill has sparked wide condemnation and many believe it to be discriminatory and racist, since it allows communities to reject residents if they do no meet the criteria of "suitability to the community's fundamental outlook", which in effect enables them to reject candidates based on sex, religion, and socioeconomic status.

The bill is due to be presented before the Knesset plenum in the coming weeks.

The Israeli flag on display on the Golan Heights.Credit: Yaron Kaminsky

Israeli Arab MKs were outraged by the proposal and walked out on the committee's discussion of it.

MK Talab al-Sana (United Arab List – Ta'al) called the bill racist and said it was meant to prevent Arabs from joining Israeli towns. MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List – Ta'al) compared the bill to racist laws in Europe during World War Two, and the two told the committee members before leaving the hall: "We will not cooperate with this criminal law – you have crossed the line."

The committee's chairman, David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu), responded to claims the bill was meant to reject Arabs from joining Israeli towns. "In my opinion, every Jewish town needs at least one Arab. What would happen if my refrigerator stopped working on a Saturday?"

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