Recognition for the Unrecognized Neighborhood of Al-Jelasi

HCJ 7960/99, Hashem Sawa'ed, et. al. v. Regional Council of Misgav, et. al.

Al-Jelasi is a neighborhood in the Arab village of Kammaneh, located in northern Israel, which was excluded from the plan to recognize Kammaneh. The main objective of this exclusion was to pressure the residents of Al-Jelasi to move to other neighborhoods in Kammaneh, thus leaving its lands open for the expansion of the nearby Jewish village of Kamoun. Petition filed in 11/99 on behalf of 140 residents of Al-Jelasi against the Misgav Regional Council, both the District and Local Planning Committees, the National Planning Council, and the Ministry of Interior. The case was joined with another petition filed by a private attorney on behalf of Kammaneh's western neighborhood. The petitions demanded that the Court order that both of the respective neighborhoods and their residents be included in the plan to recognize and grant municipal status to Kammaneh. Adalah argued that the government's decision to recognize the village of Kammaneh must relate to all of the village's neighborhoods, and that the continued denial of recognition to Al-Jelasi violated the rights of its residents.

Result: In a precedent-setting written judgment delivered in 9/01, the Court ordered the District Planning Committee to submit an expanded version of the plan to recognize Kammaneh, including the previously excluded western neighborhood and Al-Jelasi, within 18 months. Further, the Court blocked the Planning Committee from demolishing any homes or removing residents in those areas. This decision marks the first time that the Court has essentially afforded recognition to a previously unrecognized Arab village in Israel. As an initial sign of this recognition, in 11/01, the residents of Al-Jelasi were connected to the network and received electricity in their homes. Adalah was awarded legal fees of NIS 20,000.

Motion for Contempt of Court: In 5/05, Adalah submitted a motion for contempt of court, on behalf of inhabitants of Al-Jelasi, to the Supreme Court, against the respondents from the case, as they had failed to comply with the Supreme Court's decision on the petition (H.C. 7960/99, Hashem Sawa'ed, et. al. v. Misgav Regional Council, et. al.) In the years that passed since the Court's decision was delivered, the planning authorities have failed to fulfill their obligations, neither submitting nor approving any plan to include Al-Jelasi neighborhood within the boundaries of Kammaneh village.

In the motion for contempt, Al-Jelasi residents argued that the different decisions taken in the planning committee meetings indicate that the planning committees are dragging the process out intentionally. In addition to failing to implement their own decisions, these committees are disregarding the Court's decision and have proven themselves unwilling to find a proper solution for Al-Jelasi neighborhood, as the Court's decision obliges them. Additionally, the neighborhood's inhabitants argued that the non-fulfillment of the Court's decision continues a severe violation of their rights to dignity, property and adequate housing, since the failure to formalize the status of the neighborhood prevents the neighborhood's inhabitants from being provided with infrastructure, basic services, or adequate living conditions, and therefore from developing their neighborhood.

Update: In 12/05 - over four years since the Supreme Court's decision on the petition - the planning authorities submitted a master plan for Kammaneh incorporating the neighborhood of Al-Jelasi, thereby affording it official recognition. The plan was submitted just a few days before a hearing scheduled to be held before the Supreme Court on the motion for contempt of court filed by Adalah in 5/05. Following the submission of the plan, the Court ordered the state to pay legal expenses in the sum of NIS 10,000.

H.C. 7960/99, Hashem Sawa'ed, et. al. v. Regional Council of Misgav, et. al. (Decision delivered 05/09/01)