BFnews: Amnesty`s deputy Middle East director Philip Luther: “This ruling issued by religious leaders employed by the state of Israel, whose salaries are paid by public funds, clearly targets the Palestinian citizens who make up 20 per cent of Israel’s population.”
He noted: “The message these calls send to Palestinian citizens throughout Israel could not be clearer - that discrimination against Palestinian citizens seeking housing is backed by religious authorities.”
Although the ruling is not official government policy, the rabbis issuing it include the influential Shmuel Eliyahu (pictured), chief rabbi of Safed, and his counterparts in a number of other Israeli cities and municipalities, all of whom are essentially government employees.
In October, Eliyahu wrote a letter, signed by 18 other rabbis, urging Jews not to sell or rent apartments to non-Jews and calling for action to be taken against those who did. Dozens more have since backed the ban.
Luther said: “The Israeli government, as a party to international human rights treaties that prohibit discrimination on grounds of race, ethnicity, and religion, must repudiate this call by leading rabbis, take disciplinary measures against Rabbi Eliyahu and other state employees advocating racism, and work to facilitate access to housing and higher education for Palestinian citizens in Israel.”