Adalah to AG: Freeze Demolition Orders against Arab Homes in the Triangle and Wadi Ara in Central Israel, and Resolve Severe Housing Shortages for Arab Citizens

On 1 June 2008, Adalah sent a letter to the Minister of the Interior and the Attorney General on behalf of the Union of Popular Committees against Home Demolitions in the Triangle and Wadi Ara, demanding that they freeze the implementation of demolition orders issued against Arab homes. Adalah further demanded that just and realistic solutions be found to put an end to the housing and land shortages in Arab towns and villages in the Triangle.

In the letter, Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara argued that the serious shortage of housing in these towns and villages was caused by the neglect of Israel's planning authorities. Arab towns and villages in the Triangle and Wadi Ara, like other Arab towns and villages in Israel, are predominantly built on private lands owned by local residents. However, numerous families who do not privately own any land or land for building purposes. This group faces severe land shortages, as the Israel Land Administration (ILA), which manages 93% of the land in Israel, does not initiate plans to alleviate this shortage and does not allocate land for residential purposes in these towns and villages. The only option available to this group is to build homes on land designated as agricultural land, which is adjacent to areas earmarked for building, or else they will find themselves without a home.

“In other words, the reality on the ground has forced these people to find their own solutions to these land shortages and for the natural growth of their families. In accordance with the legal principles of justice, this group must be provided with protection,” Adalah argued. Furthermore, several Israeli courts have recently issued decisions in which they emphasized that the Arab minority in Israel faces discrimination in the field of land allocation and planning, and that the housing shortage demonstrates the necessity of not prosecuting them under Israeli law as “violators of the land and planning laws”, and of finding suitable housing solutions for them.

Adalah further argued that the authorities must halt the home demolition process and find suitable housing solutions because the state has not updated the master plans for Arab towns and villages in these areas for decades. In addition, the failure to make these planning decisions is also a result of decisions to prosecute residents or to issue administrative demolition orders, while the authorities should not, as mentioned above, have filed indictments against residents according to the principles of justice.