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

Project Report | Oct 18, 2021
Securing Arabic language rights, equitable funding for education, and halting forced displacement

By Ranna Khalil | Researcher

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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