20 Years of Adalah: Looking Forward

To mark International Human Rights Day 2016 and the 20 years since its establishment, Adalah has published an interactive timeline charting the last two decades of the legal, political and historical struggle of Palestinian citizens of Israel for historical justice and for full and equal rights.

To mark International Human Rights Day, on 10 December 2016, and the 20 years since Adalah's establishment, we are proud to publish an interactive timeline charting the last two decades of Adalah’s legal, public, and historical struggle on behalf of Palestinian citizens of Israel for justice and full and equal rights. Highlighted are Adalah's major human rights cases, landmark court decisions, publications, and international advocacy campaigns such as: ground-breaking petitions to the Israeli Supreme Court demanding access to health care, schools, and water for Bedouin living in the unrecognized villages in the Naqab; the fight against Israel's discriminatory budgets for Arab religious communities and Arab towns; representation before the Or Commission of Inquiry of the families of 13 Palestinian youth killed by Israeli security forces during the events of October 2000; and representation of Arab Knesset members against disqualification parliamentary elections. The timeline also marks important junctures in the legal defense of human rights of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) – including cases of suspected war crimes and the demand for accountability – before the Israeli legal system.


20 Years of Adalah: Our interactive timeline


As we pause to reflect on the past 20 years of legal milestones and continued policies of discrimination and repression alike, we also use this moment to assess where we now stand in our ongoing struggle for human rights and we look ahead to 2017 and beyond as our timeline extends into the future.

Forward look to 2017


Intensifying ‘securitization’ versus human rights


At a time of political upheaval around the globe, Adalah expects that with the shift towards the ever-greater ‘securitization’ on an array of issues, including the status of minorities, migration and political expression, human rights will too often be sacrificed for the sake of ‘national security’. From its inception, Israel has sought to ‘securitize’ Palestinians in Israel, despite their Israeli citizenship: “Demography, Arab-owned lands, Arab Palestinians moving and crossing borders, political dissent, certain forms of knowledge, speech, memory and the relationship to the past – all of these [non-security issues] have been realized as security concerns”, as we noted in the pages of Adalah’s Review, a flagship publication of the organization, in 2004. The most deadly recent instance was the October 2000 protests, in which Israeli security forces shot dead 13 unarmed Palestinian protestors in Israel. As the official Or Commission of Inquiry into the events concluded in 2003, “The police must learn to realize that the Arab sector in Israel is not the enemy and must not be treated as such.”


The enactment of Israel’s Anti-Terror Law in 2016 firmly anchored the state’s harsh response to legitimate political protest, as well as humanitarian and even cultural actions and expressions critical of discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel or the Occupation, reclassifying them as “terrorist”. Therefore, as the civil society space available for human rights defenders to work is further shrinking, we expect to have to redouble our efforts to defend basic human rights against an excessive, unbalanced focus on national security interests. The coming year, 2017, in which we will mark the 50th anniversary of Israel’s Occupation of Palestinian and Syrian land, could prove to be a flashpoint for new security crackdowns on protestors, political activists, and human rights defenders.


Forced displacement of the Bedouin


Elsewhere, in 2017 we expect to see a new Prawer Plan, frozen since 2013, as Israel renews its efforts to dispossess and forcibly displace tens of thousands of Arab Bedouin citizens from their land and homes in the “unrecognized” villages in the Naqab (Negev) desert. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will attempt to dress the plan up as a five-year socio-economic development initiative designed to improve living standards among the Bedouin. However, in reality it is the culmination of the Israeli government’s longstanding policies of land confiscation and forced urbanization of the Bedouin in the Naqab, a policy that is echoed in form and content on the other side of the Green Line, where Israel is forcibly displacing Bedouin communities such as the West Bank village of Susiya. The new plan stands to exacerbate the acutely vulnerable situation of the 80,000 Bedouin living in the unrecognized villages in the Naqab, whom Adalah has been defending before the courts for the past two decades and calls for an emergency response.


Discrimination in education


The underfunding of the separate Arab education system in Israel is a consistent example of institutionalized discrimination against the Palestinian minority in Israel and the long-term harm it can do in terms of entrenching poverty and marginalization among both individuals and communities. This under-funding is manifested throughout the system, including in the poor infrastructure and lack of adequate facilities that is characteristic of Arab schools. Over the past 20 years our litigation has achieved significant successes, including the establishment of the first high school in the unrecognized Bedouin villages in 2012, and a landmark judgment by the Supreme Court of Israel in 2006 that cancelled a government decision establishing ‘National Priority Areas’ in the field of education for the distribution of benefits, incentives and grants because it discriminated against Arab citizens of Israel on the basis of national belonging. Today, Adalah continues to be forced to take legal action to demand access to equal and adequate education for Palestinian citizens of the state, including for its youngest members, some of whom have no access to preschool education, primarily in the Naqab, despite a legal obligation for the state to provide it. In May 2016, in response to Adalah’s Supreme Court petition, the Education Minister pledged to allocate 50 million shekels (US $13 million) to bus Bedouin preschoolers in the Naqab to early educational facilities where they do not exist close to their homes. The announcement is a positive sign that the government is prepared, when compelled by legal action, to make some moves to realize education rights. However, the legal battle for on-site education in the preschoolers’ villages goes on and – more than a decade after the Supreme Court’s ground-breaking  ruling on ‘National Priority Areas’ – the decision has yet to be implemented.


On International Human Rights Day 2016 and to mark 20 years of Adalah, we ask that you join us in our efforts to continue to struggle to protect and defend human rights – specifically of Palestinians in Israel and the OPT – and to follow and support our work.


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