State Budget

The Israeli State Budget often favors the Jewish majority by allocating more funds to Jewish localities, schools, and institutions than their Palestinian Arab counterparts. To redress this reality, the Mossawa Center works on a national and local level, advocating for just policies and providing citizens and local authorities with the tools and knowledge necessary to live in prosperity. Since its founding in 1999, the Mossawa Center has been the only civil society organization in Israel that comprehensively analyzes the State Budget and its implications for Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, producing an annual report on the needs of the community in contrast to the budget.

The Mossawa Center hosts special workshops for Knesset Members and parliamentary staff aimed at informing them about the aspects of the State budget that impact Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel the most and equipping them with the knowledge and tools to effectively advocate for the needs and demands of the community within the Knesset. In the workshops, the Mossawa Center reviews the Budget Law and Arrangements Law to highlight means through which the Palestinian Arab community can gain access to more government budgets and monitor the spending of such funds.

Palestinian Arab Women’s Needs from the State Budget

The Mossawa Center works in close cooperation with Knesset Members, civil society organizations, and activists to compile and analyze the needs of Palestinian Arab women from the State Budget. It holds workshops and roundtable discussions with relevant parties, individuals, organizations, and municipalities to map the situation on the ground, draft action plans, and compile a list of demands for the government to address Palestinian Arab women's needs.

Economic Development

The Mossawa Center holds an annual State Budget and Economic Development Conference which makes recommendations on immediate actions to be taken to secure the funds meant for the Palestinian Arab community from State Budget aimed at increasing the economic development of Palestinian Arab localities, especially in terms of industrial zones, employment, and vocational training, healthcare, education, culture, and housing. In its annual State Budget Analysis Report, the Mossawa Center outlines in detail the amount of funding it recommends each government ministry allocate to the Palestinian Arab community.

Of the NIS 11 billion (~ $3 billion) generated annually from business property taxes in Israel, a measly NIS 200 million (~ $66 million) - less than 2% - are allocated to Palestinian Arab local authorities, with the rest going to Jewish local authorities. This is due to the Israeli government's deliberate and systemic discrimination and neglect towards the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel when it comes to the development of industrial zones in Arab localities. Moreover, a NIS 3 billion (~ $1 billion) ministerial plan from 2018 for the development of Palestinian Arab localities did not receive any funding from the Ministry of Finance.

Industrial Zones

The Mossawa Center places a special emphasis on the development of industrial zones in Palestinian Arab localities. In August, the Mossawa Center, in cooperation with the National Committee of the Heads of Arab Local Authorities, members of Joint List's economic development team, and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation held a meeting in the municipality of Umm al-Fahm to discuss the lack of industrial zones in Palestinian Arab localities in Israel. The meeting was attended by over 30 representatives from local authorities, political parties, civil society, and the private sector.

Following a meeting between the National Committee of the Heads of Arab Local Authorities, members of Joint List's economic development team, and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in August of 2020 and at the Mossawa Center's initiative, an Industrial Zones Task Force was established to develop industry in the Arab community. A follow-up team was formed to pursue the issue of industry, with representatives from the National Committee of the Heads of Arab Local Authorities, several NGOs, and the Knesset Members. The team met with David Leffler, the Director of the Ministry of Economy and Industry.

The Mossawa Center demands the Ministry of Finance to fund a plan for the development of industrial zones in Palestinian Arab towns worth NIS 472 million (~$140 million). The Mossawa Center wrote a working paper on industrial zones which revealed that the Ministry Finance refuses to fund a plan drawn up by Ministry of Industry to develop industrial zones in Palestinian Arab towns. The ministerial plan, worth over a billion Shekels (~$300 million) includes the following:

  • Development of Industrial Areas: Arraba (NIS 45 million/$13 million), Kafr Kanna (NIS 20 million/$6 million), Al-Tira (NIS 35 million/$10 million), Shfar'am (NIS 25 million/$7 million), Al-Taybeh (NIS 25 million/$7 million), Qalansawa (NIS 42 million/$12 million), Nazareth (NIS 25 million/$7 million).
  • Evacuation of workshops from the following towns: Kabul, Turan, Ablin, Al-Rayneh, Majd Al-Krum, Yafa Al-Nazareth, Tamra, Kafr Manda, Al-Mashad and Jaljuliya. The Ministry of Industry requested that NIS 100 million (~$30 million) be allocated for this goal.
  • Planning industrial zones in towns that were not covered by previous government decisions: Al-Mazraa, Fasuta, Mi'lia, Kawkab Abu Al-Haija, Deir Al-Assad, Ain Mahal, Kafr Yassif, Kafr Bara, Nahf, and Jisr Al-Zarqa. The cost of this plan is set to be NIS 50 million (~$15 million).
  • The joint industrial areas of Manasheh will include Umm al-Fahm, Kafr Qara, Manasheh, Tala'a Ara, Arara and Rahat.

Poverty and Welfare

A whopping 51% of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel live near or below the poverty line. The average life expectancy of Palestinian Arab men is 8 years less than female Jewish citizens. The Mossawa Center works with local municipalities, Knesset Members, and other NGOs to ensure that critical services such as healthcare and education reach communities in need.

The Mossawa Center is actively engaged in legal advocacy, employing tools such as litigation and advocacy to fight discriminatory legislation in Israel. Recently, two laws which have a detrimental impact on the Palestinian population have been the focal point of the Mossawa Center's work:

  • The "Citizenship Law" (Nationality and Entry into Israel Law), which prevents Palestinians and residents of “enemy states” from gaining citizenship, or permanent residency, through marriage to an Israeli citizen; with the purported justification for the law being that of national security. The purported justification for the law is that of national security. Decades of conflict in the Middle East conflict have divided many families, and it is common for marriages to occur between Palestinians from the other side of the Green Line (the 1949 Armistice Demarcation Line). The Citizenship Law therefore constitutes an undue restriction on family life for the affected Palestinian Arab population and has drawn considerable opposition from the Palestinian Arab community and human rights groups.

  • The “Kaminitz Law” (the April 2017 Amendment to the Planning and Building Law – 1965), which criminalizes building violations and intensifies enforcement of the law through increased home demolitions, larger fines, and heavier sentences for offenders. The Israeli government’s deliberate unwillingness to approve master plans for Palestinian Arab localities and distribute building permits has left many Palestinian Arab citizens with no option other than to build and inhabit structures that are not officially recognized (i.e. without a permit). Hence, the law disproportionately affects Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel and severely stifles development in Palestinian Arab localities. The Kaminitz Law is one of the major driving forces behind the demolitions threatening the residents of Jisr AzZarqa and the Bedouin community in the Negev.

In addition to combating discriminatory legislation, the Mossawa Center also acts against unjust or illegal acts by government bodies. One of the Mossawa Center's biggest successes in this field of advocacy has been the appointment of a Palestinian Arab as Director of Economic Development Authority for the Arab Society after Mossawa's successful petition to the Ministry opposing the appointment of a Jewish employee to this significant position for the Palestinian Arab community.

The Mossawa Center also places particular emphasis on challenging police violence. It provides detained Palestinian Arab citizens with support - legal, procedural, and otherwise - to ensure their rights to freedom of assembly and expression are not infringed upon nor suppressed. It accompanies the families of victims killed, injured, or unjustly detained by the Israeli police through legal proceedings to bring them justice. Even Mossawa Center staff are not safe from police brutality and violence. In 2018, while in custody after being unjustly detained for peacefully protesting in Haifa, an Israeli police officer brutally beat and broke the knee of Jafar Farah, the Mossawa Center's founder and General Director.

Despite their status as citizens of the State of Israel, the Israeli legal system has institutionalized discrimination against Palestinian Arab citizens for decades. The Mossawa Center seeks to transform this reality, advocating for equal rights through legislation and challenging discriminatory laws through litigation.

Jisr AzZarqa is the poorest locality in Israel, one of the most densely populated ones, and the only Palestinian Arab locality within Israel with a shoreline.

Only 23% of students graduate from high school in Jisr AzZarqa.

Jisr AzZarqa's fishing village has potential to become a tourist hotspot if it is developed fairly by the Israeli government.

The Palestinian Arab village of Jisr AzZarqa is the poorest locality in Israel and is the only Palestinian Arab locality in Israel with a shoreline. It is one of the most densely populated localities in Israel, with 15,000 residents living on 1.52 km² (~0.6 mi²) of land of whom 80% live below the poverty line. 45% of children in elementary school suffering from obesity and only 23% of students graduate from high school in Jisr AzZarqa. The average income in Jisr AzZarqa is half the national average and the average life expectancy in the village is 20 years below the national average. The village has been the Mossawa Center’s flagship development project over the past several years. The village suffers from extraordinary hardships in terms of welfare, education, and economic development, as well as severe government neglect and discrimination.

In July of 2020, escorted by heavily armed police equipped with assault rifles and bulletproof vests, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority demolished a shack belonging to Ali Jurban, a local fisherman in Jisr Az-Zarqa, in July. Following the demolition, the demolition team simply left the village, leaving Jurban and the people of Jisr Az-Zarqa to clean up the rubble. That same day, the Mossawa Center organized a demonstration against the demolition and mobilized the people of Jisr Az-Zarqa and other activists to raise awareness about the issue to the public.

At the same time, with the help of lawyer Rana Jarban, the Mossawa Center was able to prevent the demolition of the sports and fishing building in Jisr AzZarqa, owned by the only fisherwoman in the village Hamama Jarban. The court issued a temporary freeze order to prevent the demolition until the case is heard before the court. The village suffers from a policy of impoverishment and suffocation, with most of its residents living off work outside the village. Fishing is the main source of livelihood for a limited number of families who have remained in the fishermen's village, despite ongoing persecution. All fishermen in the area suffer from instability and anxiety for the future because of the constant threat to their livelihood. As in the case of Hamama, fishing, swimming, and diving are a source of livelihood for her family of 10.

The Mossawa Center advocated for the establishment of an early childhood care center and kindergarten in the village. A project several years in the making, the center was officially opened in September of 2020. In addition, the Mossawa Center completed an Early Childhood & Kindergarten Training Program and Nursing Training Program in Jisr Az-Zarqa, as part of a joint project with the local council. Over 50 kindergarten teachers participated in the Early Childhood & Kindergarten workshop aimed at addressing the importance of being a supportive teacher and developing healthy communication skills with parents and their children. In another initiative led by the Mossawa Center, in cooperation with the Jisr AzZarqa local council and funded by the Ministry of Health and Economic Development Authority, over 50 participants took part in a Nursing Training Program. The Mossawa Center also led the effort to employ the first gynecologist in the village in over two and a half years and helped secure NIS 85 million ($25 million) in government financial aid for the local council.

The Mossawa Center’s Project Solidarity Project aims to build bridges between the Palestinian Arab community and various other marginalized groups in Israel including the Russian, Mizrahi, and Ethiopian communities. By building a sense of solidarity between these groups, the Mossawa Center and its partners hope to establish a stronger network for advocacy and justice in Israel that will promote the civil, democratic, and human rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel and other members of marginalized communities in the country.

The Nation-State Law and Solidarity Building

In 2018, the Israeli Knesset passed the Jewish Nation-State Law as a Basic Law, giving it constitutional-like status in the country. At its core, the law seeks to promote extreme ethno-nationalist objectives, reflecting the politics of Israel’s far-right. The Jewish Nation-State law threatens equality in Israel, rendering non-Jewish citizens – especially its Palestinian Arab minority – as effectively second-class citizens of the state. The law explicitly demotes the Arabic language from an official language of Israel to one with "special status." Its focus on Israel’s mission to “ingather the exiles” demonstrates a renewed commitment to restricting immigration to Jewish people only and gives priority to the rights of Jewish citizens living abroad over those of its Palestinian Arab citizens. The law also legitimizes the status quo in the ccupied Palestinian Territories.Most troubling is the law's assertion that the “right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”

The Mossawa Center is working with activists and NGOs from the Mizrahi community Israel to advocate for the repeal of the law and advancement of full democratic and civil rights in Israel. Mizrahi Jews are those who came to Israel from Arab states; therefore, they share many cultural and ethnic similarities with Palestinian Arabs. On July 22, 2020 - on the two year anniversary of the enactment of the law - the Mossawa Center hosted a webinar titled Second Class by Law: Challenging Two Years of Nation-State Law Through Solidarity to discuss the ramifications of this Basic Law on Palestinian Arab citizens and other marginalized groups, as well as how those communities are challenging the discriminatory law by building solidarity between them.

In many ways, the Nation-State Law justified the seven decades-long ethnic and cultural exclusion of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel (and by extension the Mizrahi community), which, according to Mizrahi activist and journalist Orly Noy, considers the State of Israel a “villa in the jungle” of the Middle East. This perception is directly related to the racist practices and discrimination of the State of Israel towards the Palestinian Arab community.

Combating Police Brutality Through Solidarity

Since October 2000, almost 50 Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel were killed by the Israeli police. During the October 2000 Demonstrations alone, 13 innocent Palestinian Arab civilians were shot and killed by Israeli police forces. In October 2020, marking the 20th anniversary of the October 2000 Demonstrations, the Mossawa Center hosted a panel discussion titled Police Violence Against Ethnic Minorities in Israel with former MK and Head of the High Follow Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel Mohammad Barakeh, Spokesperson for the Families of the Victims of the October 2000 Demonstrations Professor Mahmoud Yazbak, human rights activist and Dor Moriah board member Dr. Michael Moore, former Chairman of the Association of Alumni of Russian and USSR Universities Dr. Samir Khatib, and Mossawa Center General Director and founder Jafar Farah. The discussion highlighted the unending police brutality and discrimination against the Palestinian Arab community in Israel.

Over 1,000 people, mainly immigrants to Israel from Russia speaking countries, participated in the event virtually, with physical attendance following Ministry of Health guidelines. The discussion raised an important issue among the Russian-Israeli community with regards to October 2000, as well as the possible mechanisms of cooperation between the Russian and the Palestinian Arab communities.

In May 2021, a wave of peaceful demonstrations by tens of thousands of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel was sparked following the vicious and calculated attacks on worshippers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and during the Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations and the forceful evictions of Sheikh Jarrah residents in occupied East Jerusalem. The demonstrators demanded the reversal of the Sheikh Jarrah evictions, an end to forcible land evictions, and an end to the systemic racism and oppression that the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel faces on a daily basis.

The peaceful protestors were met with a merciless police response and mass detention campaign under the Public Security Minister’s “Law and Order” operation. Over 2,150 Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel were detained, including 300 minors, with 350 indictments being filed. Police used rubber bullets, tear gas, and other aggressive measured against the peaceful demonstrators, leading to 8 Palestinian Arab citizens losing one or both of their eyes, and the killing of 17-year-old Muhammad Mahamid Kiwan.

Solidarity Conference

The Mossawa Center’s From Solidarity to Change conference, held on December 11, 2020, discussed opportunities for political and social and cultural cooperation between various groups in Israel without compromising ethnic identities. The conference's themes focused on the possibilities of building and strengthening multi-ethnic solidarity between the Palestinian Arabs in Israel and other ethnic groups. Activists and civil society representatives attended, along with representatives of the German, Canadian, and Swedish embassies, and former and current Knesset members.

Conference participants discussed a wide range of issues including the history and struggles of the Palestinian Arab community and other ethnic groups in Israel, as well as strategies and visions for multi-ethnic solidarity and building a social justice and multicultural society.

Socio-economic Inequality and Injustice

The socio-economic segment of the conference was opened by trade unions activist Rafi Kamhi and Ami Vatoru who spoke about how the poor and lower classes in Israel have been shifting away from the peace camp. The working class in Israel includes foreign workers and Palestinians with their race and level of employment having significant overlap. The leadership of the Workers' trade union "Koch Laovdim" consists of 10 administrators, of whom 4 are Palestinians and 6 are Jews. “This ability to make such ‘strange’ ties is due to the united struggle against class," stated Vatori.

Former Knesset member Abdullah Abu Maarouf referred to the need for "an ideology that leads to solidarity and the desire for social change and justice. Government policy against ordinary citizens cannot lead to any change in the current government's ideology, the ideology of capitalism."

Ethinc Gaps

The second segment tackled ethnic gaps and was run by activist and former Tel Aviv municipality member Yael Ben Yefet. Mossawa Center founder and Director Jafar Farah spoke about the ethnic and national voting patterns - known as “identity voting” - where the Russians vote for Lieberman, the Mizrahi Jews vote for the Orthodox religious Shas party or Netanyahu’s Likud, and the Palestinian Arabs vote for the Joint List. Common. “Therefore, when we reach the polls, we constantly get a vote that is not political and social, but with a national-ethnic orientation," he said.

Attorney Amir Badran, a member of the Tel Aviv Jaffa municipality, commented on the situation of Palestinian Arabs in Jaffa, “many in the Jewish community cannot imagine that the Palestinian Arab citizen residing in Jaffa receives a letter home and cannot read it. If such a basic linguistic service  is missing, imagine how many other difficulties Palestinian Arabs face that prevent the community from developing.”

Attorney Neta Amar Shef, who represents dozens of Sephardic Jewish petitioners against the Jewish Nation-State Law, referred to a somewhat spontaneous organization of civil activists and people from Palestinian Arab towns. “Our main of opposition to the Basic Law is due to the clause that changed the status of the Arabic language, which for us is a complete culture. To us, submitting the petition is a kind of resistance as part of the Arab region and its culture, which we consider our own since we fell part of the Arab region,” she said.

Igor Kamenik, from the Russian Dor Moria Association said, “our main goal is to cooperate with the Mossawa Center. Solidarity must first and foremost be a self-organization, and an internal organization, in order to know life on Earth.” Dr. Samir al-Khatib, echoing Kamenik’s remarks, stated, “I thank the Mossawa Center for opening the space to talk about solidarity and multi ethnic cooperation, for putting the issue on the table and talking about problems. The first step is always difficult, and this conference today takes the first step."

Occupation and Peace

In the third segment of the conference, occupation and peace were on the spotlight. it was moderated by Dobby Schwarz (ALLMEP), who opened the discussion by stressing the importance of restoring the issue of peace and occupation on the public agenda. Dr. Ella Shainsky - co-founder of the Russian organization "Our Legacy" - stated, “we have worked for a long time not to hide and not to sit in a certain closed ethnic group. All societies that suffer from unique problems need to work together and understand that we have a government that does everything so that it does not bind us.” Hiyam Tannous stated, “our history as Palestinian Arabs in Israel is sad. A history of pain, tears, and frustration. Growing up with a feeling of inequality, we feel that we do not belong.”

Sigal Harus Yehuntan of the Eastern Democratic rainbow said, “the protest today in Balfour [the demonstration near in the front of PM Netanyahu’s residence] is not really fighting for democracy, but rather for the preservation of power. The solidarity strategy should be different. At the moment there should be a convergence period for each group in order to understand the problems of each group and formulate an ideal agenda for Israeli society.”

In the evening of the  conference, the political attaché of the German embassy opened an art exhibition titled Jisr AzZarqa, a Solidarity Story, with the participation of 11 artists. The exhibition was a culmination to the Mossawa Center’s solidarity initiative in the Palestinian Arab village of Jisr AzZarqa - the poorest locality in Israel - with the Russian artists . Jaffa Theater hosted the exhibition for two weeks, in which 33 paintings telling the story of the Jisr AzZarqa were on display.

Palestinian Arab Civil Society

The Mossawa Center works to empower Palestinian Arab citizens on an individual and collective level through awareness raising, network-building, and strengthening Palestinian Arab civil society. The Mossawa Center runs programs for local councils, youth groups, teachers, activists, women, and community organizers in cooperation with other NGOs throughout the country.  Many of its local actions - such as training workshops and awareness raising campaigns - contribute to its national advocacy campaigns by informing local Palestinian Arab communities about their rights and building their capacities to advocate both alongside the Mossawa Center and independently. The more people and NGOs the Mossawa Center works with locally and nationally, the bigger the impact it can have on securing and defending the rights of Palestinian Arab citizens. The Mossawa Center also works to build networks with other NGOs in the occupied Palestinian territories to enhance capacities and increase solidarity amongst Palestinians everywhere.

Women in Elections

The Mossawa Center was actively involved in the 2018 “Your Voice is Strength” election campaign, which succeeded in doubling the representation of Palestinian Arab women in local councils. Since then, the Mossawa Center has worked with the newly elected women local council members to provide specialized training programs to ensure their success within their respective local authorities. The training focuses on practical skill-building and troubleshooting on issues of local governance, legal issues, budgeting, local economy, media relations, program development in local councils, and other topics.

Youth Engagement

The Mossawa Center strongly believes in the importance of empowering Palestinian Arab youth to bring about meaningful, long-lasting change to the community. It has four active groups: Haifa Youth Group, Jisr Az-Zarqa Youth Group, College Students in Advocacy Group, and College Students in Media Group. The Mossawa Center organizes countless workshops, events, and activities at the Carmel Center and elsewhere to foster a new generation of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel that is politically and socially active.

The Mossawa Center seeks to empower Palestinian Arab youth by raising their political consciousness and working on capacity-building and network building so that they can more effectively build an inclusive, democratic society that reflects their needs as young people and as Palestinians. The Mossawa Center developed a syllabus for youth engagement that has been implemented in localities across the country, fostering a sense of agency and providing youth with the networks and skills necessary to create positive change.

In 2020, the Mossawa Center held an advocacy training program at the Carmel Center which equipped Palestinian Arab youth with the tools and knowledge to effectively advocate for the political, economic, social, cultural, and legal rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel. The three-day program consisted of various workshops and seminars, each focusing on a different field and aspect of advocacy. Students had the opportunity to learn and discuss countless issues relating to Palestinian Arab advocacy with legal experts, community organizers, local and international leaders, and Palestinian Arab Knesset Members. By the end of the workshop, the participants not only gained important skills in advocacy and knowledge, but also established a student advocacy network that addresses issues of concern for Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel.

Accompanying the advocacy camp was a “Media and Public Relations” course at the Carmel Center for university students who wanted to develop their skills in media and journalism. The workshop also involved guest lecturer Rawan Damen and a well-known journalist who works for one of the mainstream media channels. They introduced the students to investigative reporting and explained the skills needed for the job and what the important steps are to do such reporting.

Palestinian Arab Culture

In its work to promote cultural activities and art in the Palestinian Arab community, the Mossawa Center, in cooperation with the Committee for Educational Guidance for Arab Students, hosts “Eidna Thaqafe” in the Carmel Center, a cultural and artistic festival open to all members of the community from all ages and backgrounds. The festival consists of events and activities tailored to children, stand-up comedy acts, monologues, a bazaar, as well as musical performances. The Mossawa Center hosts a similar festival at the Carmel Center in December to celebrate Christmas.

In May of 2020, the Mossawa Center hosted a two-day cultural program at its headquarters in the Carmel Center as part of its larger campaign to protect minority cultural rights and combat the extremely high rate of violence in the Palestinian Arab community. The program emphasized the importance of culture, art, and literature in combating such issues and promoting a more rich and prosperous community. With the Israeli government’s relentless persecution of Palestinian Arab cultural centers and institutions, the Mossawa Center finds it imperative that all efforts be made to protect Palestinian Arab culture and the promotion of cultural activities within Palestinian Arab society.

International Advocacy

The Mossawa Center also engages in international advocacy as a means for promoting the rights of the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel. The international community is generally unaware of the severity of the discrimination Arab Palestinian citizens face in what is purported to be a democratic state. Nonetheless, the Mossawa Center sees the sensitization and mobilization of international community as an integral component of its struggle for equality, human rights, justice, and peace.

Through its international advocacy, the Mossawa Center seeks to raise international awareness of discrimination, institutionalized racism, and public incitement that is faced by Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel on a daily basis. It also seeks to increase recognition of the importance of the Palestinian Arab minority in promoting the conditions necessary for peace-building.

The Mossawa Center’s international advocacy is directed towards international embassies, political decision-makers, most notably in the European Union and the United States, international organizations and institutions, international media outlets, and research institutions, as well as the grassroots. As a recent example, after H.E. Mr. Erik Ullenhag, the Swedish Ambassador to Israel, expressed his desire to strengthen the relationship with the Palestinian Arab community, during his visit to the Mossawa Center in Haifa, our staff provided the Swedish delegation with a comprehensive overview of the legal, social, economic, and political status of Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel, and along with comprehensive information regarding issues such as land confiscation, home demolitions, and economic and social discrimination. A similar procedure is followed by Mossawa upon every inquiry into the Palestinian Arab community by an international representative.

Taking into consideration the breadth of influence the United States has on the international arena, Mossawa aims to maintain channels of communication with key-decisionmakers in the US as well; with the most recent one being a roundtable discussion with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Mossawa also sought to engage with international advocacy during the critical COVID-19 period, by meeting with international representatives in Tel Aviv in order to discuss the implications of the pandemic on the marginalized Arab community of Israel and the role the international community can play in its alleviation.

Jisr AzZarqa: Mossawa’s Flagship Development Project

Since 2017, the Mossawa Center has become increasingly involved in working with the poorest locality in the whole of Israel – Jisr AzZarqa. Following an extensive and grassroots mapping of the town’s situation, the Mossawa Center begun implementing a range of legal, parliamentary and media interventions to expand the rights and living standards of the local population. The Mossawa Center’s advocacy work has resulted in:

  • Securing funding for a course for 50 local nursing students.
  • The opening of a mobile bank branch by Bank HaPoalim.
  • Having the Israeli Electric Corporation remove several dangerous electricity poles and including Jisr Az-Zarqa in a class action lawsuit to connect families and homes to the electricity grid.
  • The acquisition of 8.55 million NIS in funding for infant care, local schools, the local council, and the renovation of the transportation system.
  • Expansion of the village’s masterplan and the building of an entire new neighborhood.
  • The inclusion of Jisr AzZarqa into industrial zone of Zikhron Ya’akov, receiving 17.5% of the industrial zone's income. In four years’ time, this will increase the local authority’s income by about NIS 800,000 annually. Work is also ongoing to include Jisr AzZarqa in other industrial zones.

One of the greatest impediments to the socioeconomic well-being of the Arab community relates to budgetary inequality. Drawing on its expertise in relation to the state budget, the Mossawa Center works with local authorities to access budgets from the central government and to build and implement budgets in an effective manner. The Mossawa Center, however, did not only tackle Jisr AzZarqa’s problems from the top down. The procurement of funding was complemented by close co-operation with and support of the local community and the local municipality. This included over twenty women’s workshops in 2019 alone to increased local women’s capacity building skills, particularly organizational techniques, management and leadership, financial skills, and advocacy and implementation.

Beyond this, the Mossawa Center launched ‘healthy living’ campaigns with the support of health experts to teach the community about preventable diseases. The ultimate aim of this development model is self-sustainability: to ensure that the local municipality and community have the capacity, skills, and knowledge to build on our joint efforts. The Ministry of Tourism has granted budgets for the development of the beach and other tourism projects, including a course with the Technion Israel Institute of Technology through which students learned about the interconnections between the environment and tourism.

In addition, the Mossawa Center worked with local businesses to encourage tourism and to ensure that this maximises its benefits for the local community. The Mossawa Center’s co-operation with Juha's Guesthouse, a local hostel co-owned by a Jewish and Palestinian Arab citizen of Israel, has served as a platform for community building as a whole. The hostel is now a key hub for community organizing and educational workshops, including the incubation of a local women’s handiwork business, which is promoted by the Mossawa Center.

This two-pronged strategy is epitomised by the Mossawa Center’s approach to tourism in the locality. As the only Arab town in Israel on the sea front, and also intersecting with national hiking trail, Jisr AzZarqa has vast potential in tourism. There are also spectacular Hellenistic, Byzantine and Roman mosaics, and a Roman aqueduct, all in need of repair and restoration. At the initiative of the local authority the Israel Antiquities Authority carried out a workshop for high school students on how to maintain ancient ruins.

Despite these achievements, much work remains in order to close the gaping disparities between Jisr AzZarqa and the rest of the country. In the coming years, the Mossawa Center plans to build on the progress made to date, but also to follow our successful template to intervene in other impoverished Arab localities.