Challenging the Transfer of Sakhnin Employment Office to Industrial Area of Tradyon.

HCJ 3441/06, Manal Gantous, et. al. v. Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, et. al.

Petition filed to the Supreme Court in 4/06 seeking to overturn the decision to close the employment office in the Arab town of Sakhnin and transfer the office to the industrial area of Tradyon, located within the jurisdictional borders of the Misgav Regional Council, rather than in Sakhnin. The petition was filed in Adalah’s own name and on behalf of two couples from Sakhnin against Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor and the Tureq Handassa 1993 LTD Company. The decision to transfer the Sakhnin employment office followed an order from the Akka Magistrate Court to close it after a local planning and building committee claimed that the building leased as the employment office was not licensed to provide governmental services. The Tureq Handassa Company then won a bid to find an alternative building for the office, proposing a building in the industrial area of Tradyon.

The Sakhnin employment office currently serves approximately 58,000 people living in Sakhnin and four surrounding Arab towns, including around 3,000 unemployed individuals. In the petition, Adalah argued that the decision to close the office is extremely unreasonable as it violates the basic rights of the people living in the five towns, including their right to dignity, equality and to a minimum standard of living. Those who seek to use the office’s services are unemployed Arab citizens of Israel looking for work, many of whom live in extremely poor socio-economic conditions. As a result of the decision to move the office, they will be forced to use a significant portion of their low income, obtained from the social security system, on covering traveling costs to and from the new employment office. An additional burden on the job-seekers is the infrequent and irregular availability of public transport from the Arab towns to the industrial area in Misgav. Further, they will be forced to walk an additional 600 meters from the bus station to the employment office. The petitioners further argued that the closure of the employment office discriminates against Arab citizens living in Sakhnin relative to those living in Jewish towns with similar populations and rates of unemployment. The closure also violates the residents’ right to their city and to realize their residency in their own town. It is the right of the Sakhnin residents to receive public services in their own town, and not to be forced to travel to other towns in order to receive services, Adalah argued.

Result: During a hearing in 5/06, the Supreme Court acknowledged the right of Arab citizens of Israel living in Sakhnin to receive public services in the town, including the services of an employment office, but advised Adalah to withdraw the petition on the grounds that the Tureq Handassa Company had already won the published bid and found an alternative building for the office. Adalah contended that, as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision not to overturn transfer of the office, direct employment services will become unavailable in one of the largest Arab towns in Israel.

H.C. 3441/06, Manal Gantous, et. al. v. Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, et. al. (petition withdrawn)