On 22 September 2009, Adalah filed a petition to the Supreme Court of Israel on behalf of 35 female pupils from the Arab Bedouin unrecognized village of Abu Tulul in the Naqab (Negev), and on behalf of local organizations demanding that the Ministry of Education (MOE), the Ministry of the Interior and the Israel Land Administration be obliged to implement a decision delivered by the court in 2007. The decision orders these authorities to establish a high school in the village of Abu Tulul and open it by 1 September 2009. Adalah further demanded that the non-implementation of the decision to date be considered as a contempt of court.
In the petition, Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher stated that following the submission of Adalah’s first petition on this matter in 2005, the Attorney General’s Office proposed that a solution be found by agreement between the petitioners and the then-Minister of Education, Yuli Tamir. At a meeting held between the parties, Minister Tamir committed to opening the school by 1 September 2008, on condition that the petition is withdrawn. Days after the meeting, the MOE changed its position and suggested a delay of one year, on the pretext that the construction of the school required various building permits. However, the Supreme Court then delivered its decision obliging the ministry to establish the school by 1 September 2009.
As Adalah detailed in the petition, approximately 12,000 Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel live in the area of Abu-Tulul. There are three schools in the area, elementary through junior high school, attended by around 2,600 pupils. Adalah argued that the lack of a local high school has led to an alarming drop-out rate among high school age pupils, which currently stands at 55%, compared to a national average rate of just 4.6%. Furthermore, the traditional nature of Arab Bedouin society means that the dropout rate is particularly high among girls, which is currently as high as 77%.
Adalah’s supplemental petition refuted all the contentions of the MOE that the failure to set up the school was due to a lack of the necessary permits. Adalah argued that according to the existing district master plan the establishment of temporary buildings to provide social, educational and welfare services in the unrecognized villages, including Abu-Tulul, is permitted.
Adalah further argued that by not implementing the court’s decision, the MOE has breached the rule of law, and is continuing to deny the right to education of children living in Abu Tulul. Therefore the ministries concerned must be compelled to open the school immediately.
The petition (Hebrew)
H.C. 7562/09, Fatmeh Abu Sbeli, et al. v. The Ministry of Education, et al.
For information on the earlier case and Supreme Court decision see Adalah's press release of 23 January 2007.