Petitioning Against Unjust Barriers for Bedouin Citizens

25 May 2022

Israeli law gives Bedouin residents living in unrecognized villages the right to register their addresses under the name of their tribe. Their villages have no official addresses and are not identified on any official Israeli map, so registering by tribe is the solution that the law offers for inclusion into Israeli systems. Despite this legal right, Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority has long refused to accept registration by tribe for Bedouin citizens moving back to their unrecognized villages and instead insists that they keep their old addresses.

NIF flagship grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and the Council for Unrecognized Bedouin Villages petitioned the Jerusalem Administrative Affairs Court on behalf of these Bedouin residents. The authority’s refusal to update these addresses has caused a variety of bureaucratic nightmares for the affected Bedouin population, including an inability to register their children for school, obtain medical services near their home, or receive any mail.

ACRI, and the Council for Unrecognized Bedouin Villages noted that the Population and Immigration Authority does not have the legal right to prevent Bedouin citizens from updating their addresses, and that the government body is duty-bound to provide swift and efficient service in this regard. The petition adds that this policy harms these people’s rights even further — without an address, they cannot receive essential services. Finally, they argue that it is in the public interest to allow them to be registered where they live, because, when they do, their proper addresses will appear on their ID cards. Their petition also states that the policy gives the impression that the Population and Immigration Authority is acting with malicious intent in order to deter Bedouin citizens from returning to (or bringing their spouses to) unrecognized villages.

ACRI and the Council for Unrecognized Bedouin Villages are working hard to erode these unjust barriers to public services. In the meantime, the New Israel Fund and our grantees will continue to fight for land rights and recognition for Bedouin communities throughout Israel.