Adalah and the Negev Coexistence Forum demand the opening of employment bureaus in Naqab Bedouin towns

Despite the extremely high unemployment and poverty rates, job seekers from Bedouin towns in the Naqab are directed to cities that are far from their homes; Official government data indicates a slow return to employment of Bedouins who became unemployed during the COVID-19 period.

On 5 May 2021, Adalah - The Legal Center for the Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent a letter to the Minister and Director-General of the Ministry of Economy and Industry, demanding the establishment of employment bureaus in six Bedouin towns in the Naqab (Negev) - Hura, Kuseife, Laqiya, Shaqib al-Salam (Segev Shalom), Ar'ara, and Tel as-Sabi (Tel Sheva). The letter was sent on behalf of residents of the six towns – Palestinian Bedouin citizens of Israel, and the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality. The human rights organizations made this demand due to the extremely high unemployment and poverty rates in those towns when compared to the national rates. Together these towns have more than 100,000 residents.


CLICK HERE to read Adalah’s letter [Hebrew]


Despite the harsh data in the table below, showing the high unemployment rates in the Bedouin towns, ranging from 20% to 36%, not even one has an employment bureau. These towns also suffer from inadequate public transportation services, and thus, the travel time to employment bureaus that serve them can reach up to an hour.



Notably, the above data excludes the residents of many other villages (recognized and unrecognized), where unemployment rates are even higher, and job seekers living in these areas are also directed to employment bureaus in the cities noted in the above table. For instance, in the Al-Qassoum Regional Council, which provides services to some of the unrecognized villages, unemployment rates reach up to 60% of its population.


In the letter, Adalah Attorney Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi argued that the lack of employment bureaus constitutes a significant barrier to Palestinian Bedouin citizens’ integration into the labor market. Discrimination is also evident in that the Israeli authorities have established employment bureaus only in Rahat, the largest government-planned Bedouin town in the Naqab, and throughout many smaller Israeli Jewish towns with lower unemployment rates than the six Bedouin towns in question. For example, an employment bureau operates in Yeruham, which has 5,600 residents and an unemployment rate of 9.5%. In stark contrast, Ar'ara, which is located at the same distance from the city of Dimona as Yeruham, does not have an employment bureau, despite a larger number of residents, 19,000, and a much higher unemployment rate of 30%. Therefore, Adalah and NCF requested that, in addition to its demand to establish employment bureaus in the Bedouin towns, the Ministry of Economy provide a copy of the criteria guiding it in examining the establishment of employment bureaus.


The director of the Employment Service responded to Adalah and NCF’s letter on 26 July 2021. In its response, the Employment Service noted that it decided to "conduct an in-depth investigation with the assistance of a consulting firm" to examine the organizations’ request. Additionally, it detailed a number of criteria that weigh into the decision to establish employment bureaus, such as the number of job seekers, socio-economic index of the town, travel time by public transportation to nearby centers, etc. However, the response did not specify the weight of each criterion in making the decision, and it noted that there are additional criteria to be taken into consideration that were not mentioned in the response.


CLICK HERE to read the Employment Services' response [Hebrew]


In view of the generality of the response, Adalah requested on 28 June 2021 to receive a breakdown of the score given to the towns according to specified criteria, as well as the expected timeframe for the decision-making processes and the actual establishment of bureaus. After Adalah sent a reminder letter to the Ministry of Economy on 18 October 2021, the Minister's Office replied, noting that the Employment Services’ recommendations had been forwarded to it for review, and that "a discussion on the matter is expected in the coming weeks." Adalah will continue to follow-up.