(Haifa, Israel) Today, 14 April 2011, Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy leveled scathing criticism at the lack of compliance with rulings handed down by the Supreme Court in the road signs case on a motion for contempt of court submitted by Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) against the Municipality of Natserat Illit. The municipality has refused to place Arabic lettering on street signs within the jurisdictional borders of the city.
During the hearing, the justices stated that the Municipality of Natserat Illit was in clear contempt of court and must implement the court's ruling from 2002 immediately.
Attorney Hassan Jabareen, the General Director of Adalah, argued before the Supreme Court today that, "The Municipality of Natserat Illit's failure of comply with the Supreme Court's ruling is not an isolated incident, but many state authorities are not implementing Supreme Court decisions, particularly when it comes to cases involving Arab citizens of Israel and achieving equality for them."
Attorney Awni Banna of ACRI stated, "In light of the escalation of racist attitudes today against Arabs, the state authorities must fulfill their duties and preserve a shared public space that respects all participating groups."
The Supreme Court of Israel today held a hearing on a motion filed by Adalah and ACRI demanding that the court impose a substantial fine on the Municipality of Natserat Illit for contempt of court. The human rights organizations argued that the municipality has ignored the Supreme Court's ruling, delivered eight years ago, to erect road signs in Arabic, in addition to Hebrew and, as is often the case, English. "Failure to comply with a decision creates an intolerable situation of daily harm," states the motion. Adalah Attorney Haneen Naamnih drafted the motion.
The Supreme Court's ruling from 2002 stated that the lack of Arabic signs in the mixed cities of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Led (Lod), Ramla and Natserat Illit, infringed the right to equality and the language rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel. The court then ordered the municipalities of the mixed cities to add Arabic to all municipal signs, including traffic signs, street signs, and signs marking public institutions and other central city locations.
More than eight years have passed since the court's ruling and more than four since the outer time range specified in the decision for compliance. However, the Municipality of Natserat Illit has yet to comply with it. "Non-compliance with court judgments violates the principles of the rule of law, separation of powers and respect for human rights," the human rights organizations argued. |The ruling had been handed down unequivocally to abolish human rights violations."
The Attorney General in his response to the motion rebuked the Municipality of Natserat Illit for its conduct.
According to the Attorney General, not only did the municipality fail to replace old signs, but also new signs without Arabic lettering had been erected within in its jurisdictional area since the decision was handed down.
Officials from the municipality claimed that it "seeks another extension (of time) in light of demographic changes, the plan to change the name of the city, and budget implications."
Case Citation: HCJ 4112/99, Adalah, et al. v. The Municipalities of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, et al. (decision delivered 25 July 2002; request for a second hearing denied on 14 August 2003).
The Supreme Court's decision of 2002 in English:
See also, Akiva Eldar, "Former official bemoans government's disregard of Supreme Court," Ha'aretz, 1 April 2011: