H.C. 6698/95, Aadel Ka'adan v. Israel Lands Administration, 54(1) P.D. 258
Petition alleging violation of the principle of equality in the allocation of state lands and discrimination on grounds of nationality.
The petitioners are an Israeli Arab couple who wanted to build their house in the settlement of Katsir in Israel. Their request was rejected as they were Arabs and as the lands on which the settlement of Katzir was built were designed exclusively for Jews. Indeed, these lands were allocated by the State of Israel to the Jewish Agency for Israel which in turn transferred it to an agency that only sold plots to Jews. The petitioner claimed that the policy according to which settlements are established exclusively for Jews violates the principle of equality. The Court held that the "State was not permitted, by law, to allocate state land to the Jewish Agency, for the purpose of establishing the communal settlement of Katzir on the basis of discrimination between Jews and non-Jews" and that the State must reconsider the petitioners’ request to purchase a land in the Katzir settlement. Therefore, the Court found that the State cannot discriminate directly on the basis of religion or nationality in allocating state land. The Supreme Court also held that the State cannot discriminate indirectly by using a third party that adopts a discriminatory policy, such as the Jewish agency. Finally, the Court found that the character and values of a Jewish State require it to ensure equal treatment of non-Jews.
After having to file for contempt, the Ka’adan family started in January 2007 to build their home in the Katzir settlement. The Kaa’dan ruling outlawed the practice of exclusion of Arabs from communities. However, after the ruling, according to ACRI, “suitabiity tests” were widely adopted effectively continuing with discriminmation. In 2011, the Acceptance to Communities Law was passed. It “ensconces the practice of pre-screening Israeli citizens who wish to purchase state lands marketed in small communities in the Negev and the Galilee and in the extensions of kibbutzim and moshavim in these areas.” In 2011 ACRI presented a petition against the law.
The Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)
This decision is of a great significance as it expressly goes against a State discriminatory policy that has been used for years. Moreover, the Supreme Court based its decision on the Jewish state definition to reaffirm the principle of equality between Jews and non –Jews. However, after the Court outlawed this discriminatory practice, the Acceptance to Communities Law, passed in 2011, has endorsed the exclusion of Arabs and other groups by allowing prescreening of citizens for the purpose of living in certain communities.
The Ka’adan decision has been strongly criticized as the Court expressly limited its holding to a case by case basis and stated that its decision is only looking forward and does not address past discrimination. Another critic is related to the remedy awarded to the Ka’adans which was limited to requesting the State to “decide, with appropriate speed, whether it can enable the petitioners, within the framework of the law, to build a house for themselves within the bounds of the Katzir communal settlement” on the basis of equality.
Updated on March 2014.