Representing Arab Bedouin Family in an Appeal by Moshav Nevatim Against a District Court Decision Upholding the Right of a Jewish Israeli Family to Rent their Home to him Despite the Family's Racist Objections

Beer el-Sabe District Court, Civil File 5018/08 Moshav Nevatim, et al v. Zakai Wazman, et al. Appeal Against District Court Decision Civic Appeal 7831/08 Navatim: Lobor Moshav for Agriculture Settlement, Ltd. v. Zakai Wazman, et al.

On 12 October 2008, Adalah submitted its response to an appeal filed to the Supreme Court of Israel by Moshav Nevatim. Moshav Nevatim is challenging a Beer el-Sabe (Beer Sheva) District Court decision, which upheld the right of a Jewish Israeli family to rent their home on Moshav Nevatim in the Naqab (Negev) to an Arab family - the Trabein family.

The case began in May 2007 when Mr. Weisman Zakai and his wife Nathalie decided to rent out their house in Moshav Nevatim to Arab friends from the Trabein family, and to relocate to another house. When the families approached the moshav's secretariat to deal with technical matters relating to the move, the moshav staff discovered that the new lessees were Arabs. The staff refused to deal with them and demanded that the Zakais approach the moshav's management, which attempted to persuade them not to rent the house to the Trabeins. Extensive correspondence between them followed in which the Zakai family learned that the only reason for the moshav’s refusal was the fact that the lessees are Arabs. The Zakais, however, insisted on their right to rent their house to the Trabeins.

On 20 July 2007, the yard of the Zakais' house was burned, and the fire destroyed 36 vintage cars valued at hundreds of thousands of shekels. An investigation conducted by the fire services revealed that the fire had been started deliberately.

After lengthy negotiations between the Zakais and the moshav, including mediation, the moshav's management secretly approached the Magistrates’ Court in Kiryat Gat and obtained an order against leasing process, without the presence of the Zakai family and without giving them the right to defend their position. Thereafter the case was deliberated at length in the Magistrates’ Court and then the Beer el-Sabe District Court.

During the proceedings, representatives from the Moshav presented extraordinary requests to the Zakai family including the provision of various documents pertaining to the Trabeins, which the Zakais provided, and later that the Trabeins submit to questioning by a special committee to decide whether or not the Arab family was suitable to live in the moshav. The two families saw this latter condition as prohibitive and the District Court subsequently decided to refuse this request on the grounds that it is “unreasonable and not objective”. The District Court also decided that, “this condition has not been required of other lessees in the moshav who have rented houses for only one year (as is the case with the Arab family).” After the District Court approved the Zakais' request and the legitimacy of the leasing process, the moshav filed an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Representing both families, Adalah Attorney Morad El-Sana asked the Supreme Court to uphold the decision of the District Court, to reject the moshav’s appeal and to immediately give the Trabein family the opportunity to live in the house that they have rented. Attorney El-Sana stressed that the Trabein family has not sought to purchase the land or to become new members of the moshav, but only to rent a house there. As such, the moshav is not entitled to impose unfeasible conditions. The circumstances of the case make clear, Adalah argued, that the sole reason for the moshav's actions is the fact that the lessees are Arabs. Discrimination on the basis of national belonging in matters of housing is illegal, Adalah emphasized, as has been decided by the Supreme Court several times before, most importantly in the case of the Qa’adan family (see H.C. 6698/95, Qa'adan v. Israel Land Administration, et al., P.D. 54 (1) 258, decision delivered in March 2000).

Case citation: Civil Appeal 7831/08, Navatim: Labor Moshav for Agriculture Settlement, Ltd. v. Zakai Wazman, et al.

Adalah's response (Hebrew)