Seeking Publication of Public Announcements in the Arabic Language Press.

HCJ 1114/01, Adalah, et. al. v. Haifa Municipality.

After the Haifa District Court refused to accept jurisdiction regarding this matter, a petition was filed in 3/01 against the Haifa Municipality demanding that it publish its public announcements in the Arabic language press. The petition argued that the municipality’s practice of only publishing informational and services advertisements in the Hebrew press discriminates against Arab citizens of Israel living in Haifa (about 14% of the city’s population) concerning the receipt of vital information about the municipality’s services, disregards the safety of residents, and violates the Palestine Order-in-Council - 1922, which requires that all authorities in the country respect the status of Arabic as an official language of the state, together with Hebrew. This law was originally codified under the British Mandate and later adopted by the Knesset, thereby becoming part of Israeli law. In 2/02, the Supreme Court asked the Attorney General to join the case as a respondent and to submit his opinion on the matter. In 6/02, after receiving the Attorney General’s opinion, the Court decided to postpone hearings on the case until after it issued a ruling on another petition submitted by Adalah regarding the use of Arabic on signs in mixed cities. In 12/03, the Court issued an order nisi, giving the municipality 90 days to defend its position. The municipality subsequently requested an extension, which was granted by the Court and subsequently extended.

In 12/04, the Supreme Court issued its final decision on the petition, in which it approved an agreement reached between Adalah and Haifa Municipality, under which the municipality will publish all its informational and service advertisements, advertisements regarding cultural and social events open to and relevant for the general public, and its official announcements in Arabic in Arabic language newspapers, as well as any other announcements which it is required by law to publish. The agreement incorporates the majority of the demands made in the petition, and was reached after four years of litigation and a protracted process of negotiations between Adalah and the municipality. It represents a significant shift in Haifa Municipality's original position, as stated in its initial response to the petition. The municipality initially denied any legal duty on its part to publish in Arabic the advertisements which it publishes in Hebrew, and any need to do so. The municipality also claimed to have full discretion on the matter.

H.C. 1114/01, Adalah, et. al. v. Haifa Municipality (decision delivered 22/11/04).