Demanding End to GSS Intervention in Appointments of Arab Educators.

HCJ 8193/04, Union of Parents of Arab Students in Israel, et. al. v. The Ministry of Education, et. al.

Petition, motion for injunction, and request for an urgent hearing submitted to the Supreme Court in 9/04 on behalf of the Union of Parents of Arab Students in Israel and in Adalah's own name demanding that the General Security Service (GSS) be prohibited from intervening in the appointment of teachers, principals and inspectors to the Arab Education Division of the Ministry of Education (MOE), against the MOE, GSS and Prime Minister’s Office. In the petition, Adalah relied upon numerous sources to confirm the GSS’s intervention in the appointments of Arab educators; Adalah provided letters from three former education ministers and an affidavit from a former senior employee in the MOE, all of whom confirmed the practice of GSS intervention and that the post of deputy director of the Arab Education Division in the MOE is filled by a GSS representative. Though not a pedagogical expert, the representative has the decisive word in the appointment of Arab educators.

The petition emphasized that security agencies have maintained structural control over the Arab education system since the time of military rule (1948-1966) imposed only on Palestinians in Israel. The petition included letters written by Arab school teachers dating back to the 1950s, criticizing the MOE's hiring and firing practices, and exposing the system of control. Adalah argued that there is no authority in law for GSS intervention in the appointments of Arab educators, and that the practice thus constitutes a serious breach of the rule of law. Adalah also contended that such intervention is discriminatory and violates the principle of equality, as the GSS only interferes in the appointment of Arab candidates. This interference is humiliating to Arab educators, thereby impairing their right to dignity. Further, the GSS’s practices contravene the Equal Employment Opportunities Law - 1998, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of national belonging. Adalah also argued that the institutionalization of the GSS intervention violates candidates' right to freedom of employment. Moreover, by targeting Arab educators, the GSS infringes the Arab students’ right to education. Arab students are forced to study in an atmosphere of suspicion, as teachers are fearful of losing their jobs and not free to fulfill their roles as educators within an open education system. Finally, Adalah argued that the MOE’s failure to disclose the reason for a job rejection to applicants infringes their right to due process.

In its response to the petition of 10/04, the AG claimed that, under the principles of administrative law, the MOE has the authority and is charged with the duty of gaining as much information as possible from the GSS to investigate the potential criminal background of applicants for teacher, principal and inspector positions in the MOE. In 11/04, Adalah responded that, by advocating the retention of a GSS post in the MOE, the AG’s Office is perpetuating a continuing illegality. Further, Adalah countered the state's arguments by stressing that the petition does not address the issue of a candidate's criminal past, and that, while Adalah does not dispute the state’s contention that where a candidate has been convicted of criminal activity this should be taken into consideration, the intervention and monitoring carried out by the GSS far exceeds that required for such purposes and only concerns candidates for the Arab Education Division.

In 6/05, the AG announced to the Supreme Court the cancellation of a policy by which a GSS representative serves as the deputy director of the Arab Education Division. The AG also informed the Court that the MOE accepts the recommendation of the Dovrat Committee, which stated in its report that, "The MOE intends to cancel the position of the deputy director of the Arab Education Division as soon as possible. We recommend that, in the future, a similar position should not be created in the Arab Education Division or in any of its departments. The regional administrator and the MOE will be responsible for preventing the appointment or ordering the dismissal of teachers, principals and other staff members, whether Jews or Arabs, who fail to fulfill official aims." This announcement contradicts the AG's previous position, set forth in a 10/04 submission to the Court.

In response to the announcement, Adalah stated that, whilst it considered the intended cancellation of the GSS post an important step, future appointments should be monitored to ensure that the GSS does not find new ways to intervene in the Arab Education Division. Adalah withdrew the petition on 29/7/05. The Court refused to award legal fees to the petitioners.

H.C. 8193/04, Union of Parents of Arab Students in Israel, et. al. v. The Ministry of Education, et. al. (Petition withdrawn 29/7/05).