Israeli Supreme Court Upholds Planning Authority Decision to Establish Individual Settlements in the Naqab as part of its "Wine Path Plan" Despite Discrimination against Arab Bedouin Unrecognized Villages

On 15 June 2010, the Supreme Court of Israel ruled on a petition filed in March 2006 by Adalah in its own name and on behalf of Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights and the Negev Coexistence Forum against the approval of District Master Plan 4/14/42 of the Regional Council of Ramat HaNegev in the Southern District (the “Wine Path Plan”). This plan affords recognition to the illegal individual settlements that were established in the Naqab (Negev) contrary to local, district and national plans, without obtaining the necessary permits as required by law.

The Supreme Court decided that the planning authorities' decision to approve the "Wine Path Plan," falls within planning policies and the court has no authority to intervene. In its decision, the court did not address the petitioners' arguments concerning the disparate impact of the plan specifically the unequal distribution of land and the discrimination against the Arab Bedouin unrecognized villages, which would result from the approval of the plan.   Furthermore, the court ignored the racist attitude behind the establishment of individual settlements in the first instance. The clear purpose of the plan is to secure exclusive use of these areas by Jewish citizens of Israel and to prevent their use by Arab citizens of the state.

The petition was filed by Adalah Attorneys Suhad Bishara and Adel Bader with the assistance of Urban and Regional PlannerHana Hamdan, and Adalah's Naqab researcher, Salem Abu-Medeghem. The named respondents are the National Council for Planning and Building (NCPB) and the Israel Land Administration (ILA).


In the petition, Adalah argued that although the "Wine Path Plan" was presented as an initiative for developing tourism and agriculture in the Naqab, its primary objective is the preservation of "state lands" from use by "foreign elements," namely Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, who are viewed as a threat by the plan's initiators. The implication is that these unwanted citizens do not deserve these lands to further develop their communities. The “Wine Path Plan” was initiated due to the presence of Arab citizens of the state living in the Naqab and to solve the "problem" of their presence in the region.

Fifty-nine individual settlements currently exist in the Naqab region, stretching over more than 81,000 dunams of land. In general, individual Jewish families live in the settlements, often without permits and in violation of the planning and building laws and regulations.  The Wine Path Plan seeks to establish 30 individual settlements by retroactively legalizing existing settlements and allowing for the construction of a number of new ones.

To support the argument that the clear purpose of the plan is to secure the are for the exclusive use of Jewish citizens and to prevent their use by Arab citizens of Israel, Adalah brought before the Court a draft report prepared by the Prime Minister's Office for the Negev-Galilee Ministerial Committees entitled, “Individual Settlements – Northern District and Southern District.” The draft report advocated for the development of individual settlements, stating that, "The reasons for initiating [individual settlements] are to preserve state lands… [as] solutions for demographic issues."

The petition explains how, in the past, individual settlements were constructed and supplied with necessary infrastructure such as connections to the municipal water supply, electrical and telecommunication networks, and access roads. The state allocated public funds to build and develop individual settlements without authorization, in violation of the law and contrary to proper administrative regulations. The State Comptroller raised the issue of the state's inappropriate actions ten years ago in his audit and Annual Report No. 50b, 2000.

In the petition, Adalah contrasts the strikingly different approach of the state in its treatment of individual settlements with its policy toward the Arab Bedouin unrecognized villages in the Naqab. While the individual settlements are afforded official status and provided with all basic services, the unrecognized villages are denied this status and its inhabitants are forced live without basic services. Many individual settlements are located in close proximity to unrecognized villages, in which tens of thousands of Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel live in dire socio-economic conditions as a result of the state's discriminatory policies. The majority of the unrecognized villages existed prior to the establishment of the State and some of them were established as a result of the military government (in place solely for Arab citizens of Israel from 1948-1966) which relocated the people from their original villages to their current locations.

For more information, see:
Case citation: HCJ 2817/06, Adalah, et. al. v. The National Council for Planning and Building, et. al. (decision delivered 15 June 2010)

The Petition
The Supreme Court decision