Defending Palestinians with Strategic Litigation

by Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
Defending Palestinians with Strategic Litigation
Defending Palestinians with Strategic Litigation
Defending Palestinians with Strategic Litigation
Defending Palestinians with Strategic Litigation
Defending Palestinians with Strategic Litigation
Defending Palestinians with Strategic Litigation
Defending Palestinians with Strategic Litigation
Defending Palestinians with Strategic Litigation
Defending Palestinians with Strategic Litigation
Defending Palestinians with Strategic Litigation
Defending Palestinians with Strategic Litigation
Defending Palestinians with Strategic Litigation
Hmeid Family, a petitioner. Photo by: Sama Haddad
Hmeid Family, a petitioner. Photo by: Sama Haddad

Dear friends,

Many greetings to you from Adalah.

In this update we highlight three new strategic litigation cases undertaken by Adalah. In these cases, Adalah challenged racist and discriminatory laws, policies and procedures before Israeli courts, as follows:

  • A law banning Palestinian family unification in Israel;

  • A procedure for appointing teachers in Arab special needs and other schools;

  • A demand to open employment bureaus in poverty-stricken Palestinian Bedouin towns in the Naqab 

BAN ON PALESTINIAN FAMILY UNIFICATION

The newly-legislated Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) – 2022 – a new version of the 2003 Law – continues to prohibit the granting of legal status in Israel to Palestinians from the OPT or Israeli-defined “enemy states”, who are married to Palestinian citizens of Israel or residents of Jerusalem. For the first time, the Law explicitly states that it is intended to ensure a Jewish demographic majority.

Adalah petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court in March 2022, on behalf of three Palestinian families against the law, demanding that it be revoked. Adalah argued that it is a racist and discriminatory law that violates the right to establish a family, and allows the state to operate on two separate citizenship tracks based on national and ethnic affiliation under the eternal pretext of temporality.

WHO DECIDES ABOUT TEACHERS' APPOINTMENTS IN ARAB SCHOOLS

For decades, the Israeli Education Ministry has employed two separate tracks for appointing teachers: in Jewish schools, the principals have complete discretion for selecting teachers, while in Arab schools, selection is based on a scoring system and principals have no discretion. In February 2022, Adalah filed a petition to the Jerusalem District Court on behalf of Jusour- Bridges for Autism and the Chair of the Parents' Committee in Amar School in Haifa, Ms. Hanin Shomli, seeking to exclude Arab special education schools from this discriminatory procedure.

Dr. Kareem Nasser, an occupational therapist specializing in the education of autistic children, who gave an expert opinion in the case: ”The appointment procedure in Arab schools leads to the prioritization of teachers whose qualifications do not meet students’ needs, resulting in many Arab parents choosing to enroll their children in Jewish special education institutions. Those children are prevented from receiving education in their native language based on their own cultural values and traditions, thus impeding their developmental skills and preventing them from realizing their right to becoming equal and active members of society, achieving independence and full integration in family and community life.”

LACK OF EMPLOYMENT BUREAUS IN NAQAB BEDOUIN TOWNS

Despite having the highest unemployment and poverty rates in the country and the lowest socio-economic ranking, six Bedouin towns in the Naqab have no state-run employment centers; rather, job-seekers from these towns, as well as from nearby Bedouin villages, including the unrecognized villages, are directed to fairly distant Israeli Jewish cities. There is little to no public transport from these towns to the cities, and the existing centers are linguistically and culturally foreign. Employment centers provide unemployment benefits and offer job opportunities and vocational training for job seekers and assist employers in finding employees.

Adalah petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court in March 2022, on behalf of the local councils of four Bedouin villages, the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality and the Sidra Association, demanding the establishment of employment centers in Hura, Kuseife, Leqiya, A’ra’ara, Shqieb A-Salam (Segev Shalom), and Tal A-Sabei (Tel Sheva); Rahat is the only Bedouin town in Naqab which has a center. The high unemployment rates of Bedouins and the wide gaps, in general, between Palestinian Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel, are the result of, and have been maintained by, decades-long discriminatory state policies.

Click here to see Adalah’s News, 29 April 2022: Strategic Litigation

Thank you for your continued support of Adalah’s work.

Tal A-Sabei (Tel Sheva). Photo by: Saul Davis
Tal A-Sabei (Tel Sheva). Photo by: Saul Davis
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Dear Friends and Supporters,

On behalf of the Adalah team, I wish you and your families a happy, healthy holiday and New Year. I also thank you for your steadfast support for Adalah in 2021, which has been a particularly tumultuous year.
 
The May 2021 events were a seminal moment. In May, we witnessed a deadly escalation in violence in Israel and the OPT, sparked by Israel’s brutal repression of protests against the eviction of Palestinian refugee families from Sheikh Jarrah. Hostilities spread to the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex and Gaza, where Israeli airstrikes killed 240 people, including 65 children. Palestinian citizens of Israel took to the streets across the country to demonstrate, and were met by extreme violence by police and ultra-right wing Jewish Israeli vigilante groups.

In response to the May 2021 events, Adalah represented dozens of Palestinian citizen protestors detained and viciously beaten by police, and secured their release from detention with less harsh conditions, including political leaders unjustly charged with incitement. We also helped draw international scrutiny to the violence and incitement against Palestinian citizens by Jewish Israeli vigilante groups and senior Israeli officials, which culminated in the opening of an unprecedented investigation by the UN into the events and their root causes on both sides of the Green Line.

Another milestone was the announcement by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court of the opening of a criminal investigation into the “Situation in Palestine.” This watershed decision confirms what Adalah and many other human rights organizations have maintained for years: that Israel is committing war crimes against the Palestinian people, and that there is no accountability under the Israeli legal system.
 
More upheaval followed when Israel designated six of the most prominent Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations as “terrorist organizations”, shocking the international community. These groups are the most vocal in resisting the Israeli occupation and its apartheid policies, and some are active before the ICC. Adalah is providing legal advice and assistance to the Palestinian 6 against Israel’s transparent attempt to silence, delegitimize and defund them.

 

 

Click Here to view a slideshow of Highlights of Adalah's work in 2021

 

Despite the many challenges posed by these events, and working under the long shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, Adalah’s team obtained major positive results from its legal and advocacy work. Successes included securing vaccines for the most vulnerable Palestinian groups and prisoners, and the publication of emergency health information in Arabic by public health bodies. We were honoured to receive a prestigious international award from the World Justice Project in 2021 for our COVID-19 litigation.

Continuing the fight against forced displacement in the Naqab, Adalah successfully cancelled evictions orders that were filed without notice against Bedouin residents of Segev Shalom; halted the construction of a phosphate mine, which could have resulted in mass home demolitions; and contributed to the shelving of a plan to set up refugee camps for Bedouin targeted for forcible displacement.

Given the harsh, draconian measures taken by Israel against the Palestinian people, Adalah is all the more proud of these activities, through which we defend Palestinians’ human rights on both sides of the Green Line.  

On behalf of the Adalah team, I sincerely appreciate you, our partners in this work, and we can only meet the challenges of 2022 together.  Please consider welcoming 2022 with a gift to Adalah.

With gratitude, yours sincerely,

Dr. Hassan Jabareen
General Director of Adalah

 

We urgently need your support to meet the coming challenges and to continue with our critical work.

 

Please consider an end-of-year donation or a monthly recurring gift.
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Sample certificates with(L) and without(R) Arabic
Sample certificates with(L) and without(R) Arabic

Dear Friends,

Warm regards to you from Adalah. 

This month, October 2021, we achieved three important successes as a result of our Supreme Court strategic litigation. These cases pressured Israeli authorities to amend their policies, resulting in positive outcomes and the protection of human rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Inclusion of the Arabic language in COVID-19 vaccination certificates:

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic Adalah brought a series of cases demanding the inclusion and addition of Arabic to the Israeli authorities’ health-related official documents and websites. Due to Adalah’s legal actions, the Israeli ministry of health and later the primary emergency medical and ambulance service, Magen David Adom (MDA), started providing essential public health information in Arabic on their websites, after previously publishing this information only in Hebrew and in English.

Adalah’s latest case, brought in March 2021 before the Israeli Supreme Court (SCT), was the demand to add the Arabic language to the Israeli COVID-19 vaccination certificates (“Green Pass”), previously issued only in Hebrew and English.  These documents are necessary for access to numerous facilities – gyms, restaurants, cultural spaces, etc. - inside the country.

Adalah argued that the state is obligated to include Arabic, as it is the language of more than 20% of the population, and by excluding Arabic the state is violating directives issued by the Israeli Health Ministry’s director general regarding cultural and linguistic accessibility in the health system, as well as previous SCT judgments. Further, the exclusion of Arabic from these essential COVID-19 documents hinders their participation in the process of returning to a new normal in the wake of the pandemic.

As a result of this litigation, at the beginning of October, the Health Ministry included Arabic in its newly issued COVID-19 vaccination cards and recovery certificates. While Adalah welcomes this move, “The fact that we needed to file a petition to the SCT in order to compel the authorities to comply with their obligation under the law is a testament to the influence of the 2018 Jewish Nation-State Law, the racist values it enshrines, and its harmful effects. Adalah will continue its fight to ensure that the Arabic language rights of the Palestinian citizens of Israel will not be violated further.”

Ensuring more equitable and just distribution of state funding for education:

Over the years, Adalah has brought numerous legal actions before the SCT arguing for economic and educational justice and demanding more equitable funding and more benefits for Palestinian children, citizens of Israel. As emphasized by theFollow-up Committee for Arab Education: “Many unjust budgeting mechanisms violate the rights of Arab children in the field of education, and bring us to repeatedly turn to courts on behalf of parents and local authorities. Despite the changes we have been able to achieve over the years in the various struggles we have waged, the gap between Arab and Jewish education is still large, and our struggle to achieve our full rights continues.”

In the case at hand, Adalah submitted a SCT petition on 9 September 2020, demanding a just provision of state subsidies for after-school programs in Arab towns in the Misgav Regional Council (MRC) in the north of Israel. The ministry’s method of distribution of financial aid is determined based on the ranking of the regional council, as a whole, and not that of each town. The MRC ranks high in the socioeconomic levels as it consists of 29 wealthy Jewish towns and six Arab towns with the lowest socioeconomic ranking. In the petition, Adalah demanded that the fees Arab parents are obligated to pay for their children's participation in the Nitzanim national after-school program be determined according to the socio-economic grouping of their specific local authority rather than that of the MRC.

Following the petition, filed on behalf of parents and the Follow-up Committee on Arab Education, an expert NGO, the Ministry of Education informed the SCT that it will change the current budgeting model for after-school programs so that it takes into account the average socio-economic background of students. The new method will no longer refer to the regional council as a single entity, and financial assistance within the program will be provided in accordance with the average financial status of each school. The Ministries of Education and Finance will continue to develop and adapt the new model so that it will be implemented at the start of the next school year (2022-2023). Adalah will continue to monitor the situation, in order to ensure that a new model is implemented and to protect the right to equal access to education against discriminatory practices and policies based on national affiliation.

This case also has wider implications for the Israeli public as a whole, as the change in budgeting should also benefit Israeli Jewish families and towns with low socio-economic rankingsthatare at a disadvantage since they are considered to be part of a wealthy regional council.

Challenging the construction of a dangerous phosphate mine in the Naqab:

A major part of Adalah’s legal work in the Naqab concerns the state’s policies and plans to forcibly evict and subsequently displace tens of thousands of Bedouin residents, citizens of Israel, from their lands and homes to make way for more Israeli Jewish settlement. In recent years, this work has involved challenging major infrastructure plans all over the Naqab, such as the expansion of national roads and railways, and more.

In this case, in January 2019, Adalah, together with other human rights groups and on behalf of residents of Al-Fura’a village in the Naqab, petitioned the SCT against the construction of a phosphate mine. The planned mining area encompasses four Bedouin villages: Al-Fura’a (a recognized village), and Al-Azarura, Ez and Katamat (unrecognised villages). The construction of the mine is expected to lead to the immediate evacuation of more than 500 families and endanger the health of thousands of residents living in all four villages, and the surrounding areas.

On 11 October 2021, the SCT ruled that the state must conduct an environmental impact survey, which also examines health risks stemming from mining and quarrying for all residents of the area, including Bedouin citizens, who were previously excluded from these surveys. The SCT emphasised the importance of this stage, stressing that the planning committees must address the effects on public health during the planning procedures, and accordingly, consider the possibility of reassessing or even cancelling the plan.

It is extremely important that the SCT recognised that health considerations must be part of the planning process; however, this recognition is insufficient as a comprehensive health review should be a prerequisite to approving such plans. Although the court stressed that planning authorities must also consider the possibility of not approving the phosphate mine in light of possible health risk results, the ruling does not address the real threat of displacement and lack of development to the future of thousands of Bedouin residents living in and near the mine.

Further, although the Bedouin village of Al-Fura’a was recognized 15 years ago, the planning of the village is delayed due to the mining plan. Adalah, together with the residents and the partner organizations will continue to work to advance the planning of Al-Fura’a in its current location and to protect the health of its residents.

Thank you for your continued support for Adalah’s critical work. We sincerely appreciate your generosity.

Sde Brir. Screenshot from ICL Fertilizers video
Sde Brir. Screenshot from ICL Fertilizers video
Arab children going to school. Photo: Arab 48
Arab children going to school. Photo: Arab 48
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Adalah director, Hassan Jabareen (left) at SCT
Adalah director, Hassan Jabareen (left) at SCT

Dear friends,

Warms regards from Adalah. We hope that you are healthy and well and keeping safe.

In this update, we examine recent decisions in three of Adalah’s Israeli Supreme Court (SCT) cases.  Over the past few months, the SCT issued significant decisions in these major cases.

 

The Supreme Court upheld the sweeping powers granted to government by the Major Coronavirus Law, but cancelled a provision of the law that imposed certain restrictions on protests:

The SCT rejected, on 4 April 2021, a petition filed by Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) challenging the constitutionality of the "Major Coronavirus Law".The law, enacted by the Israeli Knesset in July 2020, authorizes the Israeli government to declare a state of emergency, giving it all-inclusive powers that lack transparency and which violate individual rights and liberties of citizens without parliamentary oversight. The petitioners argued that the law was legislated in a speedy process, and that it empowers the government to employ sweeping powers to deal with the pandemic without parliamentary supervision. Despite this ruling, the court cancelled one provision of the law, which imposed restrictions on the right to demonstrate over 1000 meters from your home, finding that it severely violated the right of freedom of expression and assembly. Therefore, the SCT also determined that fines imposed within the framework of this ban are void, and that all fines paid shall be reimbursed by the state.

While Adalah and ACRI welcomed the court’s lifting of restrictions on the right to protest, the groups expressed serious concern about the approval of the law as a whole, and undemocratic norms it sets, especially regarding the legislature’s authority. “A situation in which the Knesset is authorized only to retroactively approve or reject regulations already enacted by the government jeopardizes the rule of law. We also see a danger in the limited way in which the Supreme Court has, over the past year, imposed limits upon the government – which is violating human rights precisely at a time when the system of checks and balances is of paramount importance," the groups stated.

 

The Supreme Court grants unchecked powers to State Attorney’s Cyber Unit to continue to censor online speech:

On 12 April 2021, the SCT authorized the Israeli state attorney’s office Cyber Unit to work together with social media providers to block, delete, or otherwise take down users’ posts, often without the users’ knowledge and without an opportunity to defend their speech. The Cyber Unit flags and submits requests, without any formal legal proceedings, to social media giants, such as Facebook and Twitter, to “voluntarily” remove user-generated content according to the platforms’ own terms of service. Adalah andACRIfiled a petition to the SCT against these practices on 26 November 2019, arguing that the Cyber Unit’s referral activity violates the constitutional rights of freedom of expression and opinion and the user’s rights of due process without any legal authority.

While the court rejected the petitioners’ constitutional arguments, the court ruled that the Cyber Unit’s referrals constitute “state action” that requires adequate legal authorization, contrary to the state’s claim that these practices do not constitute state action since the removal of content is ultimately done by private third-party corporations. 

Online protests and dissent have gained even greater momentum due to restrictions on movement during the COVID-19 lockdown. Further, many Palestinians who took to the web to protest the police’s brutal practices during the recent events in May 2021, reported that social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter had taken down their posts or suspended their accounts.

In Adalah’s view, with this decision: "The Israeli Supreme Court has just authorized the state to continue to use its Cyber Unit to conduct quasi-judicial censorship proceedings in cooperation with private corporations, without allowing social media users to defend their rights or even to know that the state has been involved in removing their online content. Israel's Cyber Unit has operated in the shadows of the law to censor tens of thousands of social media posts every year. The Supreme Court has now, to our regret, given Israel a blank check to continue with this practice."

Adalah will continue to fight against the state’s crackdown on speech rights, including that of the Cyber Unit, to protect Palestinians’ constitutional rights by strategically challenging other aspects of the law, policies and practices.

 

Thank you, as always, for your support to Adalah’s critical work.

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Credit: screenshot of Israeli SCT live broadcast
Credit: screenshot of Israeli SCT live broadcast

Dear Friends of Adalah,

We hope that you are healthy and well in these very trying times.

In this update, we wish to inform about the progress of one of the important strategic litigation cases on Adalah’s agenda: our case against the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law (“the JNS Law”).

In July 2018, the Israeli parliament (the Knesset) passed the JNS Law – a law which has implications on the legal status of all Arabs living under the Israeli constitutional regime: Palestinian citizens of Israel, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, and Syrians residing in the Golan Heights. The law constitutionally enshrines the ethnic-religious superiority of one group only in Israel – the Jewish people – and the identity of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people (only). At the same time, the law anchors racial discrimination and legitimizes domination, exclusion, segregation, and systemic inequality.

Shortly after the law’s enactment, Adalah, representing all of the Palestinian leadership in Israel - The High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, the National Committee of Arab Mayors, and the Joint List parliamentary faction - filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court (SCT) demanding its cancellation.

Almost two and a half years later, on 22 December 2020, an expanded panel of 11 justices of the Supreme Court held its first hearing on the case, as well as 14 other petitions filed against the law. The hearing was broadcast live, with tens of thousands of viewers

Attorney Dr. Hassan Jabareen, Adalah’s General Director, argued before the court that the JNS Law excludes the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel, a homeland national group. He stressed that Article 1 of the Basic Law determines that the Palestinian people, citizens of Israel or residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), have no right to national self-determination in their homeland, and that the Jewish people have the sole collective right to govern and control the territory and its inhabitants. Under international law, the majority group has the right for self-determination, however, Jabareen argued, international law also prohibits the exclusion of other groups. He stressed that the Basic Law completely fails to meet the norms of international human rights law, and that no country in the world today is defined as a democratic state where the constitutional identity – the “We, the People” - is determined by ethnic affiliation that overrides the principle of equal citizenship.

In his response to the petition, the Israeli attorney general did not address any of the international law violations raised in Adalah’s petition.

A main purpose of the law’s enactment was to give constitutional justification for Israeli settlements in the OPT, and accordingly, Article 7 may grant the state the constitutional tools to further dispossess Palestinians from their land and to expand the illegal settlement enterprise in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan. Article 7 may also legitimize racial segregation in housing in Israel and justify the exclusion of Palestinian citizens from state land allocations and budgets for development. Adalah stressed the unconstitutionality of this provision under international law, as well as Israeli law, during the hearing.

The law also discriminates against Palestinians in culture and language rights, abolishing the official status of Arabic, and leaving Hebrew as the state’s sole official language. This, Jabareen argued, violates the law which was maintained for decades, the only collective right of the indigenous Palestinian minority – over 20 percent of Israel’s population - in its homeland.

In advance of the hearing, Adalah provided updated information to the Court concerning the most recent critical observations and calls to cancel the law by UN human rights bodies and experts. For example, four UN Special Rapporteurs wrote to the Israeli authorities expressing their deep concerns about the discriminatory aspects of the law, provision by provision; however, the State of Israel never responded to this communication.

Adalah’s petition, and the 14 others, remains pending before the Supreme Court. It is likely that the Court will issue its decision in 2021.

To read more about the Supreme Court hearing:

Adalah’s special webpage on the case

An article by Sawsan Zaher, deputy general director of Adalah, entitled “Nation-State Law Essentially Establishes Apartheid Regime,” published in the Haaretz newspaper on 22 December 2020

The Nation-State Law had its day in court, as did the farce of Israeli democracy, by Orly Noy, +972 Magazine, 24 December 2020

Watching a Show at Israel's High Court, by Samah Salaime, Haaretz, 3 January 2021

 

Thank-you for your continued support to Adalah and our critical litigation.

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Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

Location: Haifa - Israel
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