Adalah demands a state-funded transport for 500 Arab students in Karmeil

Haifa District Court rejects Adalah’s lawsuit against Karmiel Municipality and Education Ministry demanding state-funded transport for 500 Arab students to schools in neighboring towns

On 17 February 2021, Adalah submitted a lawsuit on behalf of ten parents of Palestinian Arab students living in Karmiel, a northern Israeli city, against the Karmiel Municipality and the Education Ministry, seeking to oblige them to expand the inter-locality map so that all Arab children living in the city would be provided with state-funded transportation to Arabic-language schools in towns within 30 kilometers of Karmiel.


The Israeli government established Karmiel and other northern cities and towns in the mid-1960s as part of plan to expand the Jewish presence in the Galilee, where Palestinian Arab citizens of the state constitute the majority of the population.


According to official data from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2019 there were 46,525 residents of Karmiel, of which 1,613 were Arab or about 3.5 percent. The Arab residents of Carmiel moved to the city mainly from the nearby Arab towns of Nahaf, Deir Al-Assad, Majd Al-Krum, Rama, Ba'ana, Sajur and others.


There are no Arabic-language schools in Karmiel, and Arab children go to school outside of the city. Although there are 105 kindergartens and others schools at all levels in Karmiel, not a single one serves the nearly 500 Arab children living in the city, despite the many attempts of parents to seek the establishment of an Arab school in Karmiel. The Education Ministry rejected the parents’ requests for a school claiming that the local municipality must raise the residents’ needs before the ministry, and the municipality rejected outright the parents’ requests for an Arabic-language school or a bilingual school.


As part of his election campaign, the current mayor of Karmiel, Mr. Moshe Koninsky, pledged in a video that he circulated on social media on 29 October 2018, that:


"I will not let a mosque to be built in Karmiel! I will preserve the Jewish character of the city of Karmiel. I have no deals and I have no sticks with Arabs, and no bilingual kindergarten will be built here"


Link to the video:


In response to a Freedom of Information Act request in October 2019, data received from the Karmiel Municipality on 8 December 2019, indicates that during the 2019/2020 school year, of the 500 Arab students living in Karmiel about 150 attended Hebrew-language schools in the city, and 326 others attended Arabic-language schools in neighboring Arab towns.


In 2013, the Karmiel Municipality and the Education Ministry undertook an inter-locality mapping, according to which the towns of Ba'ana, Nahaf, and Rama were the only neighboring localities determined as registration towns for elementary and middle schools for Arab students living in Karmiel. In accordance with this mapping, the Karmiel Municipality finances the transport of Arab students studying in these schools only, and refuses to fund transport to other towns for school.


The 2013 mapping today creates a very distorted and arbitrary situation. Of the 326 Arab students studying outside of Karmiel, the municipality provides one ride for 16 students and funds bus tickets only for 75, according to data provided by the municipality in a letter dated 29 October 2020. Thus the mapping meets the needs of about 28% of the students only and ignores the rest, the majority.


The Karmiel Municipality also makes it difficult for parents to receive reimbursements for school travel expenses paid out of pocket during the school year. Further, the Magistrate's Court in the Krayot has heard parents’ claims for reimbursement of travel expenses of Karmiel students who studied outside of the mapping localities, and approved them.


The Haifa District Court heard the lawsuit on 7 June 2021 and denied it. The court found that the inter-locality mapping, which was undertaken a decade ago, took the right to schooling in Arabic into account, and that the plaintiffs did not point to defects in the mapping determination or to relevant considerations that were considered. However, the court also noted that the mapping was done almost a decade ago and that a new mapping should be undertaken. The court also noted that after a further discussion within the Karmiel Municipality, and as necessary, it will be possible to apply to the Education Ministry for school transport funds, if a detailed application is submitted indicating a change in needs and population data. The municipality, as well as the Education Ministry, the court stated, will consider all aspects and options, from developing Arabic-language schools in Karmiel to selecting additional schools in neighboring local authorities.


Case Citation: Civil Lawsuit 37623-02-21 Khalaila and others v. Karmiel Municipality and others (27.7.2021).

Read Adalah’s lawsuit against Karmiel and the Education Ministry

Read the response of Karmiel

Read the response of the Education Ministry

Read the Haifa District Court decision



Israeli court relies on Jewish Nation-State Law in racist ruling: Municipal funding of school busing not required for Arab kids as it would encourage Arab families to move into ‘Jewish city’, 30 November 2020