Analysis: Mazuz does not rule ideologically (JERUSALEM POST) By DAN IZENBERG 01/27/05)
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Attorney General Menahem Mazuz´s decision to allow Israeli Arabs to
bid for land owned by the Jewish National Fund is not an ideological
decision, as his many Super- Zionist critics seem to think.
It is a legal decision based on a professional and objective
analysis of the precedent set by the High Court of Justice on March
8, 2000, when it handed down a landmark decision regarding a
neighborhood in Katzir that had originally been earmarked for Jews
only. The High Court ruled that the Katzir residents´ committee
could not reject the application of an Israeli Arab, Adel Kaadan, on
Supreme Court President Aharon Barak wrote in that ruling, "Once the
state has been established, it grants equality to all its citizens.
Israel is a Jewish state in which minorities live, including the
Every minority member enjoys full equality. It is true that a
special key [the Law of Return] to enter the home was given to the
But once a person legally resides inside the home, he enjoys the
same rights as everyone else."
On the basis of this principle, the court ruled that the government
could not give state land to the Jewish Agency to establish a
community because according to its mandate, the Jewish Agency could
only allocate that land to Jews since it was established to serve
the Jewish people. The court ruled that the state could not lend a
hand to discrimination against any of its citizens.
The Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) were both
established before the state was created to advance the interests of
the Jewish people and the Zionist movement.
They were exclusively Jewish institutions.
The JNF´s mission was to purchase as much of the land of Israel as
it could, while the Jewish Agency promoted Jewish settlement on the
land, served the Jewish diaspora and represented the Zionist
movement and the Jewish people on the world stage.
According to the JNF´s mandate throughout the decades, it held the
land as the custodian of the Jewish people and allocated it to Jews
Today, it owns some 2.6 million dunams.
The underlying question that arose in the Katzir petition, and
subsequently in the JNF petition, was the relationship between these
exclusive institutions and the state, which is bound by the
principle of equality. In the Katzir petition, the court ruled that
the state cannot relinquish its responsibilities to all of its
citizens to non-state and exclusivist institutions.
Buoyed by that decision, three human rights organizations petitioned
against the Israel Land Authority (ILA) practice of allocating JNF
land to Jews only. The petitions were triggered by a tender issued
by the ILA for plots of land in Givat Makush, in Carmiel.
When the ILA awarded several plots to Arabs, Jewish purchasers
protested and the land authority hastily withdrew the tender. When
it issued another one several weeks later, it wrote that it was
bound by an agreement between the State of Israel and the JNF,
meaning that Arab bidders were ineligible.
On the basis of a cold-blooded legal analysis of the High Court
ruling on Katzir and the similarities between the Katzir and JNF
cases, Mazuz concluded that the state would lose the petition if it
tried to defend the JNF´s position. His assessment had nothing to do
with his own private preferences, which, of course, we do not, and
should not, know.
Assuming that Mazuz´s analysis was correct – and it seems perfectly
logical - the "fault," if there is one, lies with the High Court of
Justice which set the precedent five years ago. During those five
years, the Knesset could have passed a law to bypass the Katzir
decision. It did not dare do so, because it knew that such a law
would be blatantly undemocratic. (© 1995-2004, The Jerusalem Post
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