• ACRI

Jews – 15, Arabs – 0: Promoting Adequate Representation in Planning Institutions


Illustration
© Weixin Shen | Dreamstime.com

Although the Arab population constitutes approximately 20% of Israel's population, it lacks adequate representation in the state's planning system. The portion of Arab members, from among all members of national and district planning institutions that were established by virtue of the Planning and Building Law, is negligible. As a result, the capacity for the Arab population to influence planning procedures is marginal, if not impossible, whether through national planning procedures or district and local planning procedures that directly concern Arab localities or their immediate surroundings.


For example, the National Planning and Building Council currently has only two Arab members from among its 32 members, and they thus constitute only around 6% of all council members. Meanwhile, the National Infrastructure Planning and Building Committee does not have a single Arab member among the 15 members of its committee. The Northern District Planning and Building Committee has only one member from Arab society, among the 18 members of the committee, despite the fact that approximately 57% of the district's residents belong to the Arab population.


On January 7, 2021, we appealed to the Minister of the Interior and the Deputy Attorney General, on behalf of the National Committee for the Heads of Arab Local Authorities in Israel, the Arab Center for Alternative Planning, and Sikkuy – The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality. Attorney Gadeer Nicola, the Director of ACRI’s Arab Minority Rights Unit, presented the data and made clear that the current situation constitutes a gross violation of Arab citizens’ basic rights to dignity and equality. We demanded the promotion of adequate representation for Arab society in all planning institutions established under the Planning and Building Law, and all professional bodies working alongside them. Moreover, we demanded the establishment of a minimal threshold for adequate representation that would not fall short of the relative proportion of Arab citizens among the entire population of the district, within the district’s planning institutions, and from the proportion of Arabs in the total population of the state within national planning institutions.