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Israel: Affirmative Action for Druze in the Public Sector

(Mar. 23, 2012) On March 13, 2012, the Knesset (Israel's parliament) passed the Law for Extending Proper Representation to Members of the Druze Community in Public Service (Amendments) 5772-2012 (the Knesset website (last visited Mar. 20, 2012)). The Druze are a monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Lebanon, Israel, and Syria. (Druze, BRITANNICA ACADEMIC EDITION (last visited Mar. 22, 2012).) Israeli Druze often volunteer to serve in the Israel Defense Forces.

The new Law provides that members of the Druze community in Israel should be properly represented among workers of all grades in government companies, as well as in local municipalities where 10 to 50% of residents are Druze. (Law, supra.) The Government Companies Law, 5735-1975, as amended, defines a government company as “a company in which more than half of the voting power at general meetings or the right to appoint more than half the number of directors is held by the State or by the State together with a Government company or a Government subsidiary.” (Government Companies Law, 5735-1975, § 1, 29 LAWS OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL (LSI) 162 (5735-1974/75), as amended.)

In order to reach the goal of proper representation, the new Law requires Boards of Directors of government companies that employ at least 50 employees to designate, to the extent possible, positions where Druze will be employed. The Boards are also required to list position(s) and grade(s) for which Druze will be given preference in hiring against other candidates of similar qualifications during a specified period. Local municipalities where 10-50% of the residents are Druze similarly have to enable proper representation of Druze among their workers by giving Druze preference over other candidates of similar qualifications for hiring and promotion. (Law, supra.)

The new Law requires the issuance of annual reports by the relevant agency for government companies, as well as by the municipalities, as appropriate, regarding implementation of the Law's requirements. These reports are sent to the Knesset Committee for Constitution, Law and Justice. (Id.; Municipalities Ordinance (New Version), 1 LSI (New Version) 247 (1967), as amended.)