Afula city council members swear to ‘preserve city’s Jewish character’
The Jewish Nation-State Law effect: Afula city council members swear to ‘preserve city’s Jewish character’. Adalah demands municipality immediately rescind racist oath; Adalah fears northern city ban on non-residents in public park is aimed at Arab citizens from surrounding communities.
Half a year after Israel approved the Jewish Nation-State Law enshrining Israeli Jewish supremacy over Palestinian citizens, the northern Israeli city of Afula is taking new concrete steps to reinforce these privileges within its city limits.
Israel’s Nation-State Law – which has distinct apartheid characteristics – guarantees the ethnic-religious character of Israel as exclusively Jewish and entrenches the privileges enjoyed by Jewish citizens, while simultaneously anchoring and legalizing discrimination against Palestinian citizens and legitimizing exclusion, racism, and systemic inequality. Specifically, Article 7 of the Basic Law provides that Jewish settlement is a “national value” and that the state will encourgage, support and consolidate this settlement.
Afula municipality swears to ‘preserve city’s Jewish character’
Afula city council members were sworn in late last month following local elections with an oath obligating them to “preserve the city’s Jewish character”. This act prompted Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel to demand that the city repeal its racist oath and that Israeli state authorities suspend further development in the city until this happens.
Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara sent a letter on 29 November 2018 to Afula Mayor Avi Elkabetz, Israel, Israel Land Authority Director Shimron Adiel, Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, and Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant, demanding that the city repeal the racist oath and undertake to act according to the principle of equality and to prevent discrimination against all citizens of the state.
She wrote that the Afula municipality’s oath is not only morally unethical, but may also lead to prohibited segregation, demographic engineering, and discrimination on both the individual and group levels.
Adalah also called on the Israel Land Authority (ILA) to refrain from any future commitment to development in Afula and/or allocation of land to the Afula municipality until it complies with Adalah’s demands.
Attorney Bishara urged the ILA and Housing Minister Galant to immediately establish an effective monitoring mechanism to ensure that the development and marketing of land in Afula will be conducted in accordance with the principles of equality and without discrimination.
Afula bans non-residents from public park
Coupled with the oath, on 25 November 2018, Afula Mayor Avi Elkabetz declared that non-residents would be banned from entering the city’s public park. The municipality announced that non-residents would specifically be prevented from entering the public park during the four-day Hanukkah break.
Adalah Attorney Sari Arraf sent a letter to Afula Mayor Elkabetz demanding that he cancel the ban, explaining that there is serious concern the mayor’s orders are aimed at residents of the numerous Arab communities located directly adjacent to Afula. This concern is backed by previous statements made by Elkabetz regarding the “occupation of the park” by Arab citizens from surrounding communities.
Attorney Arraf stressed in the letter that there is no legal basis to discriminate based on an individual’s place of residence, particularly in this case given the large size of the Afula park.
He contended that the Israeli attorney general, in previous cases relating to the access to other municipal parks by non-residents, has supported this position.