Adalah Position Paper On the Israeli Government’s New Decision Classifying Communities as National Priority Areas
On 13 December 2009, the Israeli government approved Decision No. 1060, entitled “Defining Towns and Areas with National Priority.”1 The decision classifies various regions in Israel and settlements in the occupied West Bank as National Priority Areas (NPAs). Around 40% of the residents living in the areas in Israel des- ignated on the NPAs map are Arab citizens of Israel. While this figure appears to indicate a significant move by the Israeli government to- ward the more equitable division of state re- sources in Israel, this is not the case. Rather, the decision is likely to lead to continued neglect and discrimination against Arab towns and vil- lages in Israel. According to the new decision, a town located within an NPA region is not auto- matically entitled to the enormous additional budgetary allowances and benefits previously granted to NPA towns and villages. Thus, while the new government decision declares that most Arab towns and villages in Israel are in- cluded in the NPAs map, it also stipulates that individual ministers have exclusive discretion to decide which towns located within an NPA region will actually receive benefits and addi- tional funding and to determine the composi- tion and duration of the benefits.
This position paper discusses the former classi- fication of NPAs and Adalah’s litigation against it before the Israeli Supreme Court. It will also examine the new governmental decision on NPAs approved in December 2009 and the new NPA Law. The paper then analyzes why the new decision violates the law by contradicting the Supreme Court’s ruling in the High Follow-Up Committee case and failing to ensure a more equitable allocation of state resources and spe- cial budget allowances to NPAs, as it declares.