High Court rebukes left-wing groups: 'Hitching a ride on the corona crisis'

Supreme Court deletes petition of left-wing groups to require state to connect illegal Bedouin settlements to electricity and internet.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Supreme Court
Supreme Court
Flash 90

Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights argued that all homes in the “unrecognized” Bedouin settlements of the Negev should be immediately connected to electricity and internet systems in order to enable school-age children living there to access the Ministry of Education's distance learning system, citing the fundamental right to education.

Justices Hanan Meltzer, George Kra and Yosef Elron recommended that petitioners withdraw the petition, both because of the steps that have already been taken by the State to ensure full access to distance-learning resources, and in view of the fact that the current situation is not urgent. "The issue you have raised should be brought before the government’s ministers. If it is not resolved within 100 days, or if there is a second outbreak of the pandemic, resubmit your petition," Judge Meltzer said. "Local governments must also act. There are non-governmental, social organizations that may also play a role. This is the norm in most of the world. When something happens here, people expect the central government to solve all problems, and if it doesn't, they expect the courts to solve them, but we have no wallet and no sword."

Justice Kra reprimanded the petitioners: "The Remote Learning Program was launched in 2013. The fact that this system requires internet access is not new to you. These are important and serious issues, but this is neither the place nor the time to resolve them." Kra characterized the petitioners' conduct as "hitching a ride on the back of the coronavirus."

Attorney Boaz Arazi of the Regavim Movement, who joined the deliberations with the submission of an amicus curae (“friend of the court)” brief, took this statement one step further: "This is more than a cynical ‘piggyback’ on the issue of education. Contrary to the petitioners' claim that there are 37 “unrecognized villages,” Regavim’s brief includes a map documenting more than 2000 clusters of settlement; this petition seeks to create policy change ‘through the back door.’ The implications of laying electricity and Bezeq infrastructure over 750,000 dunams must also be considered."

Attorney Sausan Zahar of Adalah interrupted the proceedings, voicing Adalah’s objection to Regavim’s request to join the petition as a friend of the court.

Justice Meltzer replied with a smile: “Apparently, Regavim are friends of the court, but I understand that they are not your friends."

Attorney Noa Ben-Aryeh, representing the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel, added that the petition’s allegations, regarding the unavailability of computers in certain localities and the failure to open schools due to decisions taken by local authorities, "were not found to be as has been claimed here."

The Federation of Local Authorities investigated local authorities in which the petition alleges that only 30% of the students' homes have a personal computer; in fact, 75% of all students in these locations have access to a home computer. Furthermore, individual schools remained closed during the crisis due to decisions taken by parents’ committees and not by municipalities, as was the case in other cities in the country. This also happened in Ramat Gan and Rehovot, not only in Lakia and in Daburiya."

In conclusion, the Court dismissed the petitions without prejudice, and determined that any specific problems that arise should be referred to the relevant government or local authorities.