175. Ruling won't do much to benefit Israeli non-Jews

"Israeli court says Arabs can buy land in Jewish communities." One cannot escape having mixed feelings after reading this piece (March 9).  While this is a step in the right direction and an ecouraging sign for the future, the fact remains that it is unlikely that this ruling will end 52 years of land-distribution policy based on discrimination against Christian and Muslim Israeli citizens.

It took the court more than four years to deliver its ruling and only after mediation failed to reach an out-of-court settlement. Also, the price of the plot in question was raised from the equivalent of $17,000 to $80,000 to deter the non-Jewish buyer.

Furthermore, not only did the court make it clear that this ruling applies only to the specific case of Katzir, but a legislator from the Labor party said he would submit legislation to try to bypass the ruling.

More than 90 percent of Israeli land is state-owned land controlled by the Jewish Agency, a national agency which oversees almost all land sales in Israel. Commenting on the court ruling, the head of the Agency, Sallai Meridor said "Areas within Israel adjacent to the Palestinian entity could over time and under pressure become less Israeli." This simply means that Israelis who belong to the Christian or Muslim faith are less Israeli than their Jewish compatriots.

Unless Israel abolishes its discriminatory laws like those pertaining to land purchase or the Law of Return and mandates equal rights for all it will remain an apartheid state.

March 16, 2000