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Israel: Increase of Participation of Israelis of Ethiopian Origin in Public Service

(Apr. 4, 2011) On March 28, 2011, the Knesset (Israel's Parliament) passed the Expansion of Appropriate Representation of Members of the Ethiopian Community in the Public Sector (Legislative Amendments) Law, 5761-2011. The Law amends various pieces of legislation on participation of members of the Ethiopian community in Israel in public service.

The Law provides for an amendment to the Government Companies Law, 5735-1975, requiring that the Board of Directors of such companies provide “appropriate representation, according to the circumstances, to persons who themselves, or one of whose parents was born in Ethiopia” (hereinafter “the qualified group”). Among the means that may be utilized by the Board in pursuing the goal of appropriate representation are the designation of positions for members of the qualified group and the granting of preference to candidates of the qualified group over other candidates with similar qualifications for positions or grades for a period of time to be determined.

The Law requires government companies to submit yearly reports on their compliance with the representation requirement to the Government Companies Authority. This Authority must forward the reports to the government, to the Council of Equlity of Opportunities in Labour and to the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs.

The Law similarly amends the Municipalities Ordinance (New Version), to include a requirement of appropriate representation of members of the qualified group among municipal employees and to insert a yearly reporting requirement regarding compliance. References to the changes introduced by the new Law are also added to the Local Councils Ordinance (New Version) as well as the Equality of Opportunities in Labour Law, as necessitated by the new provisions. (Expansion of Proper Representation of Members of the Ethiopian Community in the Public Sector (Legislative Amendments) Law, 5761-2011 & bill [in Hebrew], the Knesset website (both last visited Mar. 31, 2011); Government Companies Law, 5735-1975, as amended, 29 LAWS OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL (LSI) 162 (5735-1974/75); Municipalities Ordinance (New Version), as amended, 1 LSI (New Version) 247 (1967); Local Councils Ordinance (New Version), as amended, id. at 315; and Equality of Opportunities in Labour [sic] Law, 42 LSI 31 (5748-1987/88).)