pr 08-06-04

Adalah's Newsletter
Volume 67, December 2009

At Briefing for Embassy Representatives: Adalah Urges Diplomats to Take Actions regarding the Deteriorating Legal Status of Arab Citizens of Israel

On 2 December 2009, Adalah held its annual briefing on legal developments and major Israeli Supreme Court cases concerning Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel for representatives of foreign embassies at the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Tel Aviv. Ambassadors and political officers from over 10 countries attended the briefing, including the United States, the Delegation of the European Commission, Belgium, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Norway, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Switzerland. Adalah's General Director, Attorney Hassan Jabareen and Adalah Attorneys Sawsan Zaher and Alaa Mahajneh, represented the organization at the briefing.

Attorney Sawsan Zaher opened the session by providing an overview of developments in the field of socio-economic rights. She provided data and statistics about the wide socio-economic gaps between Arabs and Jews in Israel in the fields of employment, education and government spending. She also spoke about the dangerous lack of state implementation of Supreme Court decisions in several cases brought by Adalah including the National Priority Areas case, in which the court ruled that the government's program of awarding enormous benefits in education to Jewish towns and schools discriminated against Arab citizens of Israel; the Mother and Child Clinics in the Naqab (Negev), in which the government has closed three of six clinics in the unrecognized villages opened in 2000 pursuant to Adalah's litigation; and the High Schools case, in which the government has failed to fulfill its commitment made before the Supreme Court to to open the first high school in the unrecognized villages in the Naqab. In Adalah's view, the government's failure to implement these important decisions is a result of a lack of political will.


Attorney Alaa Mahajneh then provided an overview and analysis of the Israeli land reform law, which was passed by the Knesset in August 2009. This new law: institutes broad land privatization, which would completely dispossess Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinian refugees living abroad of their lands confiscated by the state; permits land exchanges between the State and the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet Le-Israel) (hereinafter - the “JNF”), the land of which is exclusively reserved for the Jewish people; allows lands to be allocated in accordance with "admissions committee" mechanisms and only to candidates approved by Zionist institutions working solely on behalf of the Jewish people; and grants decisive weight to JNF representatives in a new Land Authority Council, which would replace the Israel Land Administration (ILA). Attorney Mahajneh also spoke about the case of the unrecognized Arab Bedouin village of Atir-Umm el-Hieran in the Naqab. All of the residents of this village, who are Arab citizens of Israel, have been served with evacuation and home demolition orders, as the state as designated this location for a new Jewish town of "Hiran". Attorney Mahajneh stressed that the case of this specific village provides just one example of the broader government policy to erase the history, culture and heritage of the Arab Bedouin.


Attorney Hassan Jabareen analyzed the deteriorating situation of the citizenship rights of Palestinians in Israel in 2009. He emphasized that although discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel is not a new phenomenon and has always been part and parcel of governmental policies, today, the Netanyahu government is actively introducing and seeking to enact legislation designed to anchor this discrimination in primary laws. Attorney Jabareen also called upon the embassy representatives to encourage their governments to pose questions to Israel regarding its policies vis-à-vis Palestinian citizens of Israel in their meetings and discussions with officials. He also urged the diplomats to contact and utilize Adalah for resource materials, information and briefings for visiting officials from their foreign ministries, parliamentary delegations and international journalists.




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