Court accepts state commitment to build school bus stops for Bedouin kids but refrains from ordering construction timeline

Judge notes that Adalah's petition demanding bus stop construction was 'important' and that it 'bore fruit'; regional councils have 12 months to build bus stops.

Be'er Sheva District Court accepted the state's commitment to establish bus stations, but refrained yesterday, 12 June 2018 from ordering authorities to establish a timeline for the construction of school bus stops for Bedouin children in the Naqab (Negev) desert region.


Following the submission of a petition and a protracted legal battle led by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the state agreed in early May 2018 to fund the construction of school bus stops in the Neve Midbar and Al-Qasoum Regional Councils, adjacent to 47 schools – including 10 high schools, 37 elementary schools, and four planned schools that are not yet operational – significantly more than the 11 schools included in Adalah's initial court petition.


Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher insisted at that time on keeping the petition pending until the state produced a clear timetable for implementation of its commitment to build the new school bus stops. Adalah also demanded reimbursement for court expenses.


In its ruling issued yesterday, Be'er Sheva District Court noted that Adalah's petition demanding the construction of safe bus stops for Bedouin kids was important.


"The submission of this petition was important and its arguments were significant," Judge Yael Raz-Levy wrote, adding that the petition "bore fruit." [Emphasis in original]


Nevertheless, Judge Raz-Levy ruled that the petition had exhausted itself, writing that the 12-month construction time frame – which will commence once the regional councils receive budgets from the Education Ministry – is reasonable and she saw no reason to intervene further.


Judge Raz-Levy also ruled that the Israeli Education Ministry is not obligated to cover court expenses due to the legal complexity of the case. She also noted that the Neve Midbar and Al-Qasoum Regional Councils would similarly not be required to cover court expenses because they are "new councils just starting out… that have low economic status rankings and are considered 'poor' councils without extensive incomes."


Adalah is concerned that the exemption from liability for court expenses that Judge Raz-Lezy granted to the regional councils – despite their failure to enforce the law – might encourage similar such behavior from regional councils in the future.


The construction of the new school bus stops, to be conducted by the local councils, will benefit hundreds of Bedouin schoolchildren across the region who now face a string of safety hazards on their daily journeys to and from school.


Adalah filed the petition on behalf of parents of schoolchildren from the unrecognized villages of Al-Zarnouq and Wadi al-Na’am, and the recognized but not fully-planned villages of Abu Tlul, Abu Qrinat, Umm Batin, and Kuhleh.


Adalah also demanded in its petition that the state remedy associated safety hazards such as missing guard rails, road signs, and marked crosswalks.


Adalah will continue to monitor the implementation of the court's decision.


CLICK HERE to read the court decision

CLICK HERE for the court’s final decision (20 May 2018)