Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, submitted last week a petition to the Supreme Court of Israel demanding that a construction company be ordered to sell an apartment to an Arab citizen in a new neighborhood in the city of Afula. The petition was filed after the company refused to sell the man an apartment, arguing that the neighborhood is not a “mixed neighborhood.” Adalah also asked the court to compel the company to end discrimination based on national affiliation when marketing apartments that are built on public land.
The petitioners, a young Arab man from Nazareth and his partner, approached the company’s offices and asked to buy an apartment in the Kidmat Nufarim neighborhood, located east of Afula. When the sales clerk learned that they were Arab citizens of Israel, she apologized and stated that the neighborhood is not planned to be a mixed one, meaning that it was being built for Jews only. A recording of a phone call between the Arab man and the sales manager, which occurred after the meeting with the clerk, is provided with the petition. In the recording, the sales manager clearly says: “We committed to others who bought apartments that this neighborhood will not be mixed.” The manager added that “we cannot go back on this commitment.”
Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara, who is representing the petitioners, argued that the construction project in question is being built on lands managed by the Israel Land Authority (ILA), a state agency, which is prohibited from discriminating against citizens based on their national affiliation. Furthermore, the petition emphasized that the ILA is responsible for monitoring the marketing methods used by companies that build projects on public land, and it has a duty to prevent companies from discriminating against Arab citizens. Adalah also demanded that an apartment be reserved for the petitioners in that same neighborhood, until the court issues a final decision in the case.
Attorney Bishara further stressed in the petition that, “This kind of discrimination is a clear violation of the law and related court rulings, and violates the clear commitment made by the Attorney General (AG) before the Supreme Court in 2007. In that case, the AG stated that: ‘Lands that are managed by the ILA, including JNF lands, must be made available regardless of the nationality of the person buying.'” Attorney Bishara added: “There is no doubt that excluding the petitioner from this construction project in Kidmat Nufarim is a severe violation of the constitutional rights to dignity and equality.”