Achievement in the struggle against housing discrimination
How is ACRI beneficial as a veteran organization with a legal tradition, a clear strategy for defending human rights, and perseverance? Here is an example from the housing sector, where in recent years I have continued to uphold our longstanding tradition of activity.
In 1995, ACRI submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice on behalf of the Qadan family against the refusal by the Jewish Agency and the Cooperative Association of the Residents of Katzir to accept Arabs into the neighborhood. One of our claims was that the state does is not disburdened of its obligation to market land equitably when it transfers property to a third party that is a private entity (the Agency and the Cooperative Association). Indeed, the High Court upheld that discriminatory marketing is prohibited, even if the marketer's practice is private.
In 2009, we filed a petition against the Israel Land Administration demanding the disqualification of a construction tender granted in Jaffa after it decided to market apartments solely to religious Jews. We claimed yet again that the state is not disburdened its obligation to market public land in an equitable manner, even if the marketing is conducted by a private company, in practice. The district court dismissed our petition, but we did not give up and appealed to the High Court. At that stage, the state changed its position and commenced including explicit conditions in construction tenders that prohibit discrimination in marketing apartments. The High Court sided with this position, yet solely via a side-note.
Here we are in 2019 – and the High Court is discussing an appeal filed by a contracting company that discriminated against Arabs in a project it established on public land that it won. The company claimed that the law does not prohibit it from discrimination. We applied to join the case. Last week, the High Court accepted our position and made it clear that a contracting firm granted a construction tender on state land must market the apartments equitably, or would be subject to prosecution.
Why am I sharing this? Because perseverance, determination and the ability to serve as a center for knowledge and legal action over the years are paying off, and are important for legal development in a sense that protects human rights. In the present ruling, no other dispute has been determined regarding whether the Prohibition of Discrimination Law in Products and Services, which ACRI initiated in 2000, applies to construction companies that sell apartments, as our position suggests that the law should be interpreted. We will continue to defend the right to housing equality and I am convinced that in the end, even if it takes another decade, our position will be accepted.
Attorney Gil Gan-Mor
Unit Director - Social Rights and Equality