Challenging Master Plan that Threatens to Confiscate Land of 24 Arab Residents of Daliyat al-Carmel to a "National Park and Har Shukiv Forest"

A.P. 4377/07 Maqaldah Safi, et al. v. The National Council for Planning and Building

The Haifa District Court has dismissed a petition filed by Adalah on behalf of 24 individuals from the village of Daliyat al-Carmel that demands the cancellation of a master plan for a "National Park and Existing Forest Har Shokif." If implemented, the planned national park and forest would eliminate the only possibility for the development of Daliyat al-Carmel, an Arab Druze town located in the north of Israel. The court dismissed the petition in a decision dated 15 May 2011. The master plan covers large areas of land around Daliyat al-Carmel, which is surrounded by nature reserves and national parks. The implementation of the master plan would therefore render the future development of Daliyat al-Carmel extremely difficult, except in the western part of the area, which consists of privately-owned land.

Following the petition, in 2008 the state announced its decision to rescind the appropriation of 27 of 36 plots of land – around 900 dunams – that were designated for the park. Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara objected to the inclusion of the remaining 9 plots in the plan, but at the time the court ordered the parties to negotiate an agreement. However, since no agreement was reached, the court made its decision.

In his decision, Judge Ron Shapira dismissed Adalah's petition, but stated that, "… in adopting planning policies for the towns of [neighboring] Esfiya and Daliyat al-Carmel, the cultural and social characteristics of the residents should be taken into consideration. The case concerns a Druze community that has special cultural elements, and whose members do not relocate to other places of residence in the country. Thus the form and density of construction… is not adequate for its needs, and changes in the planning must be made that would contribute to solving the problem of land in order to develop these towns."

Judge Shapira added, "It is necessary to strengthen planning policy for the development of the area as a tourist center to support these towns economically, and also as towns with a demographic group with special characteristics that requires suitable residential spaces, and to maintain, as far as possible, the area's natural resources and general landscape. Finding solutions to these problems will help to solve the problem or unlicensed building by the residents of these towns, since the ongoing nature of such construction apparently comes in response to the basic needs of the residents for residential areas adequate for the special cultural characteristics of the Druze community... It would be good, as the appeals committee on the decision also mentioned, if future planning for Daliyat al-Carmel took into consideration the social characteristics of its residents, their specific needs, their sources of livelihood and their way of life, and was carried out with public participation."

The petition, filed by Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara in 2007, argued that annexing part of the land of Daliyat al-Carmel to the park would inevitably violate the rights of the town's residents to private property and to work towards developing their town.

Administrative Petition (A.P.) 4377/07, Maqaldah Safi, et al. v. The National Council for Planning and Building (Haifa District Court)

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