Adalah to Housing Minister: Housing Associations that Acquire Public Land to Build Housing Projects Must Abide by Principle of Equality

On 12 December 2010, Adalah sent a letter to the Minister of Housing and Construction and the Israel Land Administration (ILA) demanding that they compel housing associations that enter bids for public land to abide by the principle of equality and the principles of administrative law, which prohibit discrimination between citizens. The letter was submitted by Adalah Attorney Haneen Naamneh.

According to the bidding process established by the Ministry of Housing and Construction for allocating land to registered housing associations for the purpose of establishing housing projects, these associations are permitted to allocate land exclusively to their own members. Further, it is the internal bylaws of the housing associations that govern the process of allocating land or housing among its members. Adalah emphasized that many housing associations that enter bids for public land were established for the express purpose of bidding for land in order to guarantee that it is allocated to specific population groups for political, demographic or ideological reasons.

Adalah argued in the letter that the system for allocating land does not contain any article that obliges housing associations to abide by the principle of equality in the allocation of public land, which should be available to all on an equal basis. As a result, many citizens, including Arab citizens of Israel, are unable to acquire public land granted to housing associations, and many areas are effectively closed off to large sections of the population on the basis of their national, religious and/or ethnic belonging.

Jewish national housing associations have become a widespread phenomenon in the mixed Jewish-Arab cities in Israel, for example, where Arab citizens face a housing crisis. One of the most prominent housing associations, Beimuna, establishes housing projects for Orthodox Jews and operates in the mixed cities of Yaffa and Led. Another, Naveh Afeek, operates in Ramle.

Adalah argued that the allocation of public land to registered housing associations does not absolve the allocating authority of its duty to apply the principle of equality, and that the internal bylaws of a housing association cannot substitute for the directives of administrative law and relevant constitutional principles. The allocation of land in this manner violates basic constitutional rights, primarily the rights to equality and housing, Adalah added.

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