High Court: Benefits for Discharged Soldiers Are Not Discriminatory

Justices rule unanimously that distinction of entitlement to loans based on service, not ethnicity.

The High Court of Justice ruled Wednesday that benefits given to discharged soldiers or to those who participated in National Service - such as Housing Ministry loans - are not discriminating against Arabs.

The court denied a petition filed by two Arab couples and the Adalah Center, which called for the cancellation of the benefits. claiming they were based on ethnicity and thus discriminating and unequal.

Former soldiers or National Service volunteers are eligible for the loand, which can reach up to NIS 125,000 per couple. Israeli Arab citizens, who are not required for compulsory service, are not entitled to these loans unless they have participated in the army or National Service programs.

In their ruling, the justices wrote, "Not every distinction is invalid. The distinction is based on practical explanations and does not harm equality. Not every different treatment is discriminating treatment. People who served in the army or in National Service dedicate their time and strength for the good of the collective. They cannot work and earn a living while in service. As long as the distinction is based on these conditions, it is not discrimination."

The Adalah Center said in response that the court's ruling discriminates against Arab citizens and contradicts previous Supreme Court rulings. It said it would request an additional hearing with a wider panel of justices.