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  • ACRI

Establish the First Arab School in Nazareth Illit


Thirty-two Arab parents and children from Upper Nazareth, along with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Mossawa Center, petitioned the Nazareth Administrative Court to establish the first Arab state school in Nazareth Illit. Despite the fact that some 2,600 Arab students live in the city, many of them are forced to travel to Nazareth and nearby villages each day in order to receive proper education, while their Jewish neighbors study almost exclusively in state educational frameworks in their cities. The attempt to establish an Arab school in the city was met with persistent and stubborn refusal on behalf of the Nazareth Illit Municipality, which is supported by the Ministry of Education. The former mayor, Shimon Gapso, explicitly stated that he refuses to establish an Arab school in order not to harm the Jewish character of the city.

The petition claims that there is no dispute regarding the local authority's responsibility to establish schools for the city's students, as determined by the Compulsory Education Law. Moreover, the absence of a school whose language of instruction is Arabic violates the right of Arab children to education, mother tongue education, and equality. It further claims that other local authorities with many Arab residents, such as Haifa, Acre, Lod, Ramle and Tel Aviv-Jaffa, do not deny their obligation to provide the most basic service of free, appropriate, and suitable education for all residents.

In October of 2016, the petition was rescinded with the consent of the parties, after the court ordered the municipality and the Ministry of Education to reconsider their position on the establishment of an Arab school in the city, and after the municipality announced the establishment of a special team in cooperation with the Ministry of Education.

The municipality and the Ministry of Education were supposed to submit their position by the beginning of 2017. The Ministry of Education only submitted its position in May of 2017, according to which Upper Nazareth provides an appropriate educational solution for all students. According to the Ministry, there is no need to establish an Arab school in the city, since most Arab parents want their children to continue to study in private settings in Nazareth. The Nazareth Illit Municipality did not provide an official position. Thus, in July of 2017 ACRI filed a second petition on the matter.

A hearing on the petition was held on April 3, 2019. It was decided that within three months the municipality must complete the process of examining needs and make a decision. On July 21, 2019, the court rejected the petition, stating that the municipality's decision not to establish an Arab school in the city and not to promote any other Arabic education solution for Arab city children is "reasonably and strictly within the professional and administrative discretion of the respondents." ACRI appealed the judgment to the Supreme Court.

Administrative petition 31499-06-16 Salom v. The Municipality of Nazareth Illit; Administrative petition 28159-07-17 Salom v. The Municipality of Nazareth Illit

Attorney: Raghad Jaraisy, Sana ibn Bari

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