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LL.M. Alumnus Works for Arab Rights in Israel

Tawfiq Jabareem (L.L.M. '93), a Palestinian from Israel, recently returned to the Middle East, where he is now working with the Association of Forty, a human rights organization. Established in 1988, it works to gain official Israeli recognition for the more than 100 Arab villages located within Israel proper.

Jabareem contends that Israel refuses to acknowledge the villages in order to maintain or increase control of land owned by Arabs. In 1965 the Israeli government passed building laws obligating builders to obtain permits from designated authorities. These permits, Jabareem argues, are subject to numerous restrictions and resulted in more than 50,000 people, particularly Israeli-Arabs, being deprived of the right to develop their lands or to enjoy such basic services as water, electricity, roads, schools, and health facilities.

In 1981, the building laws were amended to prevent homes that had been built without the requisite permits from acquiring services. According to Jabareem, Israel uses this deprivation of services as a means to further its official state policy of concentrating Arabs in designated regions and forcing village inhabitants to abandon their homes and lands. "There is no doubt that the Israeli policy towards the unrecognized villages is in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" says Jabareem. Under an alternative plan designed by the Jabareem and the Association, most villages would be annexed to nearby towns in order to be eligible for basic services, while the remaining villages would be granted recognition.

Jabareem describes as "fantastic" the time he spent as an LL.M. student at the Washington College of Law focusing on the human rights curriculum. "It gave me a lot to think about, of how to address the problems of Arab villages in Israel and how to deal with basic [Arab] rights," Jabareem says. "I am planning to use my [WCL] experience at an upcoming human rights conference in Nazareth [Israel] which will deal with Arab rights in Israel."

In addition to working with the Association of Forty, Jabareem's projects include petitioning the High Court of Israel to prevent an Israeli Kibbutz from closing hundreds of acres of grazing land used by Arab Bedouins. Jabareem also has successfully argued for the repeal of an administrative order issued by the Israeli authorities to demolish an Arab couple's home.

©Copyright 1994 The Human Rights Brief

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