Land, housing, and planning are core issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  In Israel, these issues are the main source and indicator of inequalities amongst different strata of the society, especially amongst the Jewish majority and the Arab minority.  According to a number of human rights organizations, fair and affordable housing for all citizens is the responsibility of state government.[1]  However Israeli Basic Law, the document that stands in place of a written constitution, does not enshrine the “right to adequate housing.”  The Supreme Court does not interpret the “right to human dignity,” which is guaranteed under Israeli Basic Law, to include adequate housing.[2]

            According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care and necessary social services” (Article 25.1).

            Although in summer 2011, Israeli masses protested by the thousands for government solutions to socio-economic issues, specifically the lack of affordable housing, the social justice movement was orchestrated and monopolized by the concerns of the Jewish Israeli middle-class.  In reality, housing issues are the most critical in the Palestinian Arab community, where citizens face systematic discrimination in land ownership, renting and basic services.  The Mossawa Center was central in  coordinating meetings between Arab community leaders and the Jewish leaders of the socio-economic protest in order to encourage the movement to adopt key demands specific to the Arab community’s needs.  Following the release of the governmental response via the Trachtenberg Committee (see Glossary of Terms), it was evident that these demands were not taken seriously.[3]

            Last summer was not the first time the Palestinian Arab community’s housing, land and planning issues were brought to the forefront.  The international media has intensively covered issues of “disputed land,” especially house demolitions in the occupied Palestinian territories, since the Second Intifada.  In more recent years the international community has also begun to cover the deteriorating situation of the Palestinian Arab Bedouin living in the southern Negev desert.  However, it remains understated how common issues of land, housing, and planning are for Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, including citizens in the North (the Galilee), in the Triangle (the Center) and in mixed cities (Haifa, Akka, Jaffa, Lod, and Ramle).  The Or Commission, founded after the events of October 2000 (see Glossary of Terms), highlighted the housing, land and planning crisis in the Arab community and called on the Israeli government to allocate proportional resources to Arab localities.[4]  To this day, the government has not responded to the Commission’s request. 
            The Mossawa Center, as the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, wants to introduce the “Homeless in Your Own Home” blog as an avenue for the global community to get a glimpse of the daily challenges and resilience of the Palestinian Arab minority of Israel in finding equal and affordable housing.  While there are several organizations, at home and abroad, that can provide statistics on the complex situation of the Palestinian Arab minority, the Mossawa Center prefers that this education comes directly from the mouths of the people it affects the most.  The Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel featured in this blog each have a unique story to tell and our hope is that you can listen to their stories with an open heart and mind. 

            The Mossawa Center is not responsible for the thoughts and opinions of individual interviewees.  The interviews are also not meant to be a perfect representation of the Palestinian Arab minority, but are intended to give a few voices to a marginalized community.

            For quantitative research on the Palestinian Arab Minority in Israel, please visit the following websites:

The Mossawa Center: The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel  

Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel 

ACRI: The Association for Civil Rights in Israel 

Mada El-Carmel: Arab Center for Applied Social Research

ACAP: The Arab Center for Alternative Planning 

[1]   ACRI: The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, “The State of Human Rights in Israel and the OPT 2011,” 2011         <http://www.acri.org.il/camp/tmunat2011/index2.html>: 68

[2]   ACRI: The Associated for Civil Rights in Israel, “Shadow Report to UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” 2011 <http://www.acri.org.il/en/2011/11/02/acris-shadow-report-to-un-committee-on-economic-and-social-rights/>: 46.

[3]   The Mossawa Center, “The Mossawa Center’s Response to the Trachtenberg Report,” 2011 <http://www.mossawacenter.org/files/files/File/Publications/MC_position_on_Trachtenberg_.pdf>:1-2.

[4]   ACRI, “Shadow Report...” 13.