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First and second periodic report dated 8 April 1997


First NGO Report

The Israel Women's Network (IWN), established in 1984, is a non-partisan coalition of Israeli women. Through advocacy, legal and legislative activity, consciousness-raising, and education, the IWN seeks to promote women's status in Israel in all fields of life. IWN prefaced its report with the following comment:


"We understand that a coalition of Palestinian women who are Israeli citizens have produced a report to CEDAW on the issue of the status of Palestinian women in Israel. We regret that our report does not contain enough information on the special problems faced by Palestinian women. Palestinian women are undoubtedly the best-equipped to appreciate and understand the unusual and difficult problems faced by Palestinian women in Israel. We hope that these two NGO reports, together with the State report, will help produce a more complete understanding of the different types of discrimination faced by women in Israel."


[The most recent Israel Government report was not available while the IWRAW report was being compiled. However, IWRAW has omitted sections of a general nature in the IWN report, based on the assumption that similar descriptions will be found in the Government report. Otherwise, editing has been solely in the interests of brevity. ed.]


Court Jurisdiction in Claims of Discrimination

Although the Supreme Court in Israel does not have the authority to overrule legislation not adhering to the principle of equality, it does have the authority to invalidate discriminatory policies of the government and other bodies authorised by law. Policies of discrimination against women in various areas were declared illegal by the Supreme Court based on the principle of gender equality. Nonetheless, when the principle of equality came into conflict with the religious beliefs of some groups, the Supreme Court gave preference to these groups in an effort to avoid confrontation with them.

In 1994, for example, the Supreme Court rejected the petition of a group of Orthodox women who wished to pray together in a minyan (religious quorum) at the Western Wall (a form of worship not acceptable to the ultra-Orthodox when practised by women) and the women were rejected from the area by the Rabbi of the Wall. The Supreme Court ruled that despite the fundamental changes in the status of women in this century -- to which women who observe the Jewish law are also subject -- the Western Wall is a sensitive area and not the place for these groups to wage their battles. These women are still not allowed to pray together as a group at the Wall.

National measures to ensure equal rights for women

No authority in Israel is entrusted with the task of safeguarding equal rights for women. The current Prime Minister, like those who preceded him, appointed an Advisor on the Status of Women within the Office of the Prime Minister. The position of advisor is not mandated by law, however, and thus rests on the discretion of the Prime Minister, who could revoke the appointment at any time. The function of the Advisor to the Prime Minister is not defined, and the office is allocated a very small budget that does not allow it to take practical measures to advance the status of women in Israel. A bill to establish an Authority for the Status of Women is currently being drafted by the Office of the Prime Minister, after intensive discussions with, inter alia, the leading women s organisations.

The dissemination of information about the rights of women is carried out in Israel primarily by non-governmental organisations. Women's organisations have initiated activities in a wide range of areas, including the rights of working women, rights within the family, the rights of single-parent families, preventing sexual violence and domestic violence, and others.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN - Convention Articles 3, 5, 6, 12, 15 and 16

In 1991, the Prevention of Violence Within the Family Law was enacted. This law allows the court to grant a protection order against a violent family member. The major difficulty with this law is that a protection order can be granted for a maximum of just six months; a woman who suffers at the hands of a violent husband often needs a protection order for a much longer period than that.

In an attempt to encourage women who have been the victims of sexual assault to file charges against their abusers, a new law was enacted in 1995, on the basis of which the judge in a sexual assault trial may order that the defendant shall watch the victim's testimony via a monitor rather than being present in the courtroom while the victim gives her testimony. Though the law should have been enforced by 1 January 1997, the court's administration has not completed the process of providing all district courts with the requisite equipment. There appears to be no intention of providing such equipment to the local courts. This means that only victims of those severe sexual offences that are dealt with in the district courts will be able to benefit from this law.

The Israeli legislature tries to fight the high rate of sexual crimes against women by increasing the maximum sentence the court can impose upon the defendant. A recent study found that increasing the maximum sentence did not produce a change in the average sentence for sexual offences -- presently only a fifth of the maximum sentence defined by law.

The above-mentioned study also found that when the victim of violence is a woman, conviction rates are lower and sentences lighter than when the victim is a man. This is partly a function of the fact that the relationship between the victim and the attacker is usually more intimate in cases where women are the victims -- in ninety percent of cases studied, the woman's attacker was a family member or a man she already knew -- and judges tend to hand down lighter sentences in such circumstances. These findings demonstrate the urgent need to educate judges in Israel regarding sexual violence against women.

A new bill suggests that the minimum sentence for sexual offences should be not less than a third of the maximum sentence defined by the law. A special committee has been established by the Ministry of Justice to discuss this proposal.


There are no government-sponsored initiatives to modify discriminatory social behaviour of men or women in Israel. Activity is just beginning in the field of education (more about this in the discussion about Article 10). One area dominated, in our opinion, by prejudiced norms and opinions regarding male and female stereotypes is that of the media. Israeli society as depicted in the news is a male society -- men run it and express their opinions about it. Despite the increasing feminization of the media professions, a male majority continues to report the major news items.

In advertising, negative stereotypes of women abound. Relatively inexpensive items are advertised by women filmed at home, while more expensive products are advertised by men at work or outdoors. A content analysis of advertising reveals that the body of a woman in commercials is often accompanied by sexual innuendo. Much advertising carries a diluted form of pornography that finds its way into the mass media. Turning the woman and her body into a marketing tool is another step in the process of creating an inferior image of the role of women in society.

POLITICAL AND PUBLIC LIFE - Convention Article 7

Representation in religious bodies

One area in which women do not have the right to participate equally in public life is religious affairs, including religious courts. Israeli law confers sole jurisdiction in matters of marriage and divorce to the religious courts of the various denominations, each according to its religious provisions (see also Article 16 below). The Religious Judges Law (1955) and the Druze Courts Law (1962) have been interpreted by religious establishments to mean that only men can serve as judges in these courts. The situation is similar in the Christian and the Shari'a courts.

In recent years, changes have taken place in the representation of women in religious bodies. Following two court decisions in 1988, women (only a few so far) have become members of the municipal religious councils and the committees for selection of the chief rabbis, despite the opposition of the religious establishment. Even when taking these decisions, which ostensibly entrench the principle of equality in Israeli jurisprudence, the court first consulted Jewish religious law to ensure that there were no religious grounds to prevent the participation of women in these bodies.

Elective office

[several paragraphs concerning numbers of women holding various positions, etc., have been deleted, on the assumption that the Government report will have such information. ed.]

Army Service

Army service is compulsory in Israel for both men and women. However, the Security Service Law and the derivative army regulations and orders delineate several significant differences between the obligations of men and women in matters relating to army service. As defined by law and military orders, women serve in the army 21 months and are liable for reserve duty until age 24, while men are obligated to serve 36 months and be part of the reserve until age 55. Married women and mothers are exempt from army service.

Israeli army regulations prohibit women from becoming combat soldiers as part of their army service. In 1995, the military rejected Alice Miller's request to apply to become an air force pilot, arguing that women cannot be part of a combat unit. The Supreme Court ordered the military to open the pilots course to qualified women, citing women's right to equal opportunity.

Nonetheless, women are not allowed to serve as fighters in combat units, so their options for military service are very limited and do not include the central function of a soldier -- fighting. In addition, this restriction limits women's opportunity to advance in the army ranks, since many of the high positions in the army are dependent on past combat service. Israeli courts have not yet dealt with the question of women's participation on the field of battle.

Alice Miller did not pass the Air Force's preliminary tests for acceptance into the pilots course, but she paved the way for others. Seven women were accepted in 1996. All dropped out by now.

Fourteen further women started the second pilots course in 1996, and thirteen are about to start the first course of 1997.

Military service is one of the most significant components of Israeli society for a number of reasons: the great majority of Israelis who serve, the lengthy service, the sensitive period in one's life, and the intensity of the experience. The army is a key element in Israeli life and army service is considered a very important element in Israeli socialisation.

The roles of women in the army are dictated by traditional assumptions of biological difference -- this in an age when technology has changed the face of warfare, eliminating physical strength as a major factor in most areas of army activity.

This has impact not only on army service, but also on life after release from the army. Senior army officers join the political or economic elite of the country, and thus the discrimination against women in the army is continued in civilian life. Hence the army, because of its penetrating and far-reaching influence, contributes more than any other institution to reinforcing and perpetuating gender inequality in Israel (see also the example under Article 8).


Women are sparsely represented in Israel's foreign service. The prevalent view in the Foreign Ministry is that having a married woman in the position of ambassador is problematic. Out of the 1,032 workers in the foreign service, 347 are women. Of the 111 Israeli embassies and consulates abroad, just 9 are headed by women.

As for UN conferences -- women are often appointed to the official Israeli delegation after heavy pressure by women's organisations. The official Israeli reports tend to not give sufficient attention to issues of concern to women, and there is usually a need for an NGO document. The Israel Women's Network issued a shadow report for the Social Summit in Copenhagen (March, 1995) and Habitat II in Istanbul (June, 1996).

In the peace negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbours, the Israeli side is generally represented by senior army officers, senior reserve duty officers, and the top echelon in the civil service -- three sectors in which female representation is virtually nil. Hence the number of women representing Israel in the peace talks is also negligible.

EDUCATION - Convention Article 10

Only half as many girls as boys take the (maximum) five units of mathematics in the matriculation exams, though their achievements are equal to or better than those of the boys. Hence girls participate only marginally in the more prestigious studies, which are a vital springboard to the better paying professions and entry into the academic world.

[This section of the IWN report contains a number of comparative educational statistics which have been deleted on the assumption that they will be presented in the Israeli Government report. ed.]

Studies have shown that latent sexist attitudes exist among teachers and teacher interns of which they themselves may not be aware. It is claimed, for example, that boys are better at mathematics, while girls excel at Hebrew and social interaction. Even the children themselves (boys and girls) view girls as inferior to boys in most areas, and the situation worsens as the children advance in school. The children have clearly internalised the perceptions of the adult world suffused with stereotypes, and this is reinforced by teachers' attitudes and the latent messages they convey. School texts in all subjects are permeated with stereotypes, from pre-school through twelfth grade.

As of June 1994, a woman heads the office for gender equality in schools at the Ministry of Education. The ministry adopted a program developed by the Israel Women's Network, whereby it undertakes to: review all new and existing curricula; introduce a mandatory course on gender equality to all teacher training courses; expand in-service training courses for teachers that deal with gender equality; conduct courses to train moderators about educating for gender equality; conduct an experimental program in gender equality to encompass various schools throughout Israel; produce a workbook entirely dedicated to educating for gender equality. An evaluation of the effectiveness of these programs will be conducted to enable assessment of their impact on attitude change and to improve future programs.

EMPLOYMENT - Convention Article 11

Retirement Age

Many working women face a severe problem in times of mass cuts in personnel. Employers use women's privilege to retire at the age of 60 to discriminate against them. In many cases of mass cuts, the employer prefers to send the women, and not the men, to early retirement. This policy leaves many women between the age of 55 and 60 unemployed, while men this age are allowed to keep their job. In addition, women receive enlarged pensions only until they are 60, while men receive the enlarged pension until they are 65. These days a number of law suits against such policies -- arguing that they are discriminatory and against the Equal Retirement Age for Male and Female Employees Law -- are pending in court.

Rights related to pregnancy and birth

The Employment of Women Law (1954) regulates the rights of women concerning pregnancy, childbirth, and child care. This law prohibits the dismissal of an employee who is pregnant if she has worked at the same workplace for more than six months, or of a woman on maternity leave, without the express authorisation of the Minister of Labour and Welfare. One problem with this law is that it does not prevent pregnant women's working conditions being changed for the worse. Employers take advantage of this lacuna, do not fire the pregnant employee, but harm her working conditions. For example, employers send pregnant women to unpaid vacation, reduce their working hours, or give them work that is not part of their usual job.

Another issue is the policy pursued by the supervisor appointed by the Labour and Welfare Minister who has been granted by law the power to authorise the dismissal of pregnant employees. Although the law prohibits authorising a dismissal if it is related to the pregnancy, the supervisor interpreted the power vested in him as allowing such a dismissal if the woman cannot perform her usual job because of her pregnancy. Because of this policy, employers can and do dismiss pregnant women if their usual job includes working with dangerous materials or lifting heavy weights.

A third shortcoming in the Employment of Women Law is that it does not prevent the dismissal of a woman immediately after her return from maternity leave, a practice current among employers. Although these women can sue their employers under the Equal Opportunity in Employment Law, it would be preferable to extend the prohibition on dismissing a woman during pregnancy and during maternity leave to an additional period following her return from leave.

Child Care

In 1995, the Equal Opportunity in Employment Law was amended to extend women's rights regarding employment and child care to cover men too. The law, as amended, states that -- in a workplace in which women employees have special rights regarding absence from work due to children's illness; are eligible for a shorter working day because of parenthood; and have the right to use the employer's child care facilities or enjoy an employer's participation in the costs of child care facilities -- male employees shall enjoy the same rights. This amendment is an important step in the direction of social recognition of men s role in their children s upbringing.

However, the law is not without its faults. Thus, it grants a man the above rights only if the child is in his sole custody or if his wife is entitled to the same rights in her workplace but did not take advantage of them. This means, for example, that if the mother is not entitled to be absent from her workplace when her child is sick, the father will not be able to take leave, even if in his workplace women employees are entitled to be absent when their child is sick. The conditioning of the father's right upon the mother's is a major obstacle to achieving sex equality in the workplace regarding child care obligations.

Women in the labour force

In 1995, sixteen percent of the managers in the labour force were women, which is two percent of all working women. There has been virtually no progress on this issue, in light of the fact that the number of women in the work force has doubled since the 1980s, but the percentage of women managers remains the same.

Women constituted about sixty percent of the 500,000 employees in the public sector in Israel in 1995. They are under-represented at the higher levels and over-represented at the lower levels, where they constitute about eighty percent of the employees. In the civil service, women constitute only eight percent of the employees in the top seven ranks.

Enforcement of labour laws

The authority for enforcing labour laws, including the laws barring discrimination at work, rests with the Ministry of Labour and Welfare. In practice, the Ministry does not exercise its authority regarding the Equal Opportunity in Employment Law, with the exception of enforcing the laws that prohibit the discriminatory advertisement of job openings.

In accordance with Article 18 of the Equal Opportunity in Employment Law, the Minister of Labour and Welfare appointed monitors to oversee implementation of the provisions of this law. Each monitor is responsible for enforcing implementation of the Equal Opportunity in Employment Law in her district, but they bear a heavy burden: In addition to their monitoring of the Equal Opportunity Law, these same women supervise the day-care centres in their districts. Thus very little of their time is dedicated to overseeing the law. One large obstacle to the enforcement of laws and recommendations for advancing women in Israel is the absence or inadequacy of budgets.

According to the Equal Opportunity in Employment Law, the Minister of Labour and Welfare is authorised to establish a public council for enforcing the law. Although this council was theoretically established, it has hardly met and nothing has been done to enforce the law.

It is rare for a woman to sue her employer based on the Equal Opportunity in Employment Law, and even more rare for a meaningful decision to be rendered. Because of the small number of petitions, the courts in Israel have not yet grappled with the difficult questions of discrimination in promotion, hiring, wages, or of sexual harassment at work.

Until recently, the Israeli courts awarded no more than $1,000 in damages to a woman who sued her employer. The sum was awarded for mental anguish and not compensation for the loss of income or the monetary damage. The ground stewardesses of El Al Airlines sued their company for not allowing them to participate in a course for station managers abroad, a course that is a prerequisite for promotion to more senior positions in El Al. Only after twenty years of discrimination, six years in court, and three complaints filed against the company, the group settled for compensation in the amount of $300,000.

There are several reasons for the small numbers of women who file complaints against employers: the difficulty of confronting one's superior, fear of losing one's job, the limited job market, psychological barriers for victims of sexual harassment, and fear of being labelled a troublemaker. Another problem is that a woman may not identify the discrimination as such, but might take the blame on herself and her own lack of skill, for example, for continuously failing to obtain a promotion. Her immediate environment and society at large are not generally supportive of a woman who stands up for her rights. There is also no tradition in Israel of using the courts to fight for social rights (as distinct from political rights).

Israeli women lack the backing that organisations such as the Human Rights Commission give to Canadian women. In taking legal action against discrimination by her employer, several psychological and financial obstacles stand in her way. Israeli law was recently changed so that the right to initiate legal proceedings now belongs not just to the victims of discrimination or the employees' association at work, but also to organisations dealing with the rights of women.

Many Israeli employers believe that discrimination against women will not affect them. Until Israeli courts rule in favour of women who have been discriminated against and impose heavy damages against discriminatory employers, women will not be motivated to initiate legal battles, and employers will continue to discriminate against them.


The new National Health Law which was enacted in 1994 ensures health insurance to every resident. With small differences, each insurance plan provides inexpensive or free medical services, including treatment of pregnant women and childbirth.

The formulation of the law is vague and full of medical terminology. Apart from the payment arrangements, which are clearly formulated, all the rest is subject to interpretation. The law also stipulates that funding for abortion will be given only for medical reasons. Another provision states that all services provided by one of the Sick Funds on a specific date (January 1, 1994) will become part of the health services mandated. Aid to pregnant girls in distress has been reduced.

Women's health in general is accorded only superficial attention in the new law. One of the tests for the detection of defects in the foetus has already been dropped from funding, and there are now fees for carrying out some tests.

Another paragraph in the law which is worded very generally has to do with a woman's health at the time of menopause -- about which awareness has grown in recent years. The law grants every woman the right to hormonal replacement therapy during menopause. But the law does not cite the right to tests and treatment for osteoporosis.

Long-term studies among low-income families in Israel indicate that women suffer more health problems than do men. These studies reveal the link between the state of their health and the multiplicity of pregnancies and childbirth.

Although Israeli women of western origin are still the highest risk group for breast cancer, a sharp increase has been noted among women of eastern origin (North Africa and Asian). Breast, uterine, cervical and ovarian cancer comprise about half of all the new cases of cancer discovered each year.

The emphasis on childbirth in Israel has channelled resources to technological services which aim to increase fertility. Thus other services to promote health and increase the quality of life, such as early detection of breast cancer or treatment for osteoporosis, are neglected. Israeli women still have limited access to comprehensive, quality family planning services. Many continue to rely on unreliable methods of contraception, which often end in unplanned pregnancies. Significantly, the health services available under the National Health Law do not include provision of contraception and women must pay approximately $100 for the insertion of an IUD.

The emphasis in Israel on primary services and high medical technology has led to the neglect of preventive and promotive treatment. These are not routinely encouraged nor covered.


Recently a new threat to women's reproductive rights emerged in the shape of a proposed law initiated by the religious parties in the Knesset, according to which the definition of a human being will include a foetus from the moment of conception. If this law is passed by the Knesset, it might lead to criminal charges of murder against women who have had an abortion and against those who performed them.

EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW - Convention Article 15

Men and women have equal standing before the law in Israel. Israeli secular law also does not distinguish between men and women in matters related to concluding contracts and administering property.

The aforesaid is not true of laws applied in the religious courts of the various denominations. As discussed below (with regard to Article 16), the religious courts have sole jurisdiction, in varying areas, over matters of personal status.

The law in religious courts is the law of the religion served by that court, and religious judges of the various courts distinguish between men and women in a number of areas.

Jewish and Muslim women, for example, cannot inherit from their parents. According to the Israeli civil law, a daughter is entitled to inherit from her parents just like a son. The religious law will be implemented if all parties involved agree to turn to the religious court and ask it to rule according to the religious law. Without such consent, the religious court must rule according to the civil law. In some cases, women surrender to pressure from their families and agree to be judged by the discriminatory religious law.

According to Jewish law, a woman, upon dissolution of her marriage, is entitled to the amount that had been specified in her marriage contract and the assets that are registered in her name. Given that most family and business assets are usually registered in the name of the husband, this religious rule harms women.

According to the civil law of Israel, upon the dissolution of marriage, a married woman is entitled to half the property acquired in the course of the marriage, whether registered in the name of the woman or the man. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that religious courts must follow Israeli civil law in matters not under their sole jurisdiction. The Supreme Court issued this ruling in the petition of a woman after the Jewish Rabbinical Court had abrogated her right to property acquired during her marriage, even property registered in her name. The Supreme Court ruled that in this case the Rabbinical Court was obliged to apply the Equal Rights for Women Law and the rulings of the Supreme Court, and to rule that half the property acquired during the marriage belongs to her. The Rabbinical Courts expressed strong reservations about this ruling and about the mandate that they must adjudicate according to the general principles of civil legislation and litigation in Israel.

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LAW - Convention Article 16

Although the state of Israel declared its reservation about this article of the Convention, we wish to provide a status report about it. The most salient feature of the laws of marriage and divorce in the Israeli judicial system is that issues of personal status are adjudicated exclusively according to religious law. With minor exceptions, the Israeli judicial system has no mechanisms for civil marriage or divorce. Although this constraint on the freedom of religion and conscience falls on both men and women, most religious laws are based on a traditional, patriarchal world model, and therefore the control of religious laws entails special injury to the status of women. In this religious system, women are considered unfit for public tasks related to the functioning of religious courts of law, such as serving as a religious judge [a dayan in Judaism or a kadi in Islam]; and women's testimony in a Jewish religious court is not accepted except when there is a need for declaring a man a missing person.

Among Jews:

Generally, Jewish religious law does not distinguish between men and women in the right to enter into marriage, so long as both members of the couple are of the same religion. There are two exceptions: divorced women and widows are prohibited from marrying men of the "priestly" class and a widow who has no children must receive the permission of her late husband's unmarried brother, if he had one, to marry someone other than himself.

Jewish religious law also does not limit a woman's right to choose a spouse freely or to enter into marriage based on free and full consent.

The main form of discrimination against Jewish women relative to Jewish men concerns rights during the course of marriage and in the event of its dissolution. A man takes a woman in marriage as a unilateral action; to dissolve the union, the man must consent to give the divorce. The divorce will be completed if the woman agrees to accept it. According to Jewish law, the woman lives her married life in subordination to the man, benefiting from the economic and physical security he provides in exchange for the domestic services that she gives him. Even if this division of labour does not reflect the life style of many women in Israel, this grasp of the roles of the marriage partners has an impact when religious courts adjudicate a dispute between partners during divorce proceedings.

In divorce, one expression of the double standard to which men and women are held concerns the attitude to adultery. Monogamy is an absolute decree on the woman and therefore the repercussions of any sexual relations outside wedlock are very serious indeed for a married woman and any children born to her as a result of a relationship other than with her husband. On the other hand, Jewish religion is indulgent toward a man having extramarital sexual relations.

Separation through divorce [a Get] is possible only with the consent of both parties. This consent, however, is not of equal weight for men and women. If the man refuses to give his consent, various forms of pressure will be applied, including the option of imprisoning him for up to six months. If he persists in his recalcitrance, however, the woman may not marry another according to Jewish law. This woman is labelled an aguna [abandoned]. If an aguna bears children to a man who is not her husband, these children will be classified "bastards" and permitted to marry only other bastards.

On the other hand, if a woman refuses to consent to a divorce and does not relent in the face of pressure, the man may be given permission to remarry even though he is not divorced. The consent of one hundred rabbis is required for this permission. Furthermore, if this man does not remarry but does father children by another woman, these children are considered legitimate. (Note: If a married woman has sexual relations with a man who is not her husband and wishes to marry him after her divorce, Jewish law does not allow it, as she is declared "forbidden to her husband and to those with whom she had sexual intercourse". There is no parallel prohibition on the husband in a similar situation.

A yearly average of ten to fifteen Jewish men receive permission to marry a second wife. Many more begin the preliminary procedures for securing such permission, which in itself is a means of extortion used in divorce battles.

In 1995, a new law was enacted in an attempt to reduce the number of women who are agunot because their husbands refuse to give them a get, and to diminish the discriminatory effect of the religious attitudes towards women and men vis-à-vis the act of divorce. The new law grants rabbinical courts the right to impose a wider range of sanction on husbands who refuse to give a divorce. These sanctions include preventing the recalcitrant spouse from leaving the country, cancelling his checking account and driving license, preventing him from holding governmental office, and more. Because these sanctions are severe, it was decided that the law be in force for four years, after which it will be re-examined. (The sanctions can be imposed on women, but by a more lengthy and complicated procedure).

During a period of a year and a half, fifty decisions were handed based on the new law. This means that the law can and is used to help women who suffer from their inability to get a divorce as easily as a man can.

There is a big disparity between the different rabbinical courts' implementation of the law. In Haifa, for example, in the first year and a half after the law was enacted, one forum of judges handed down eighteen decisions based on the new law, of which nine ended with the recalcitrant husband giving a divorce to his wife. In Tel Aviv, on the other hand, one forum of judges handed down just one decision based on the new law, and this did not lead to a divorce. There is a pressing need to educate rabbinical judges on the importance of the law in helping women escape from an unwanted marriage.

In Israel, when a Jewish couple separates, the division of property can be adjudicated either in the District Court or the Rabbinical Court, the venue based on where the petition was first filed. Since men have an advantage in the division of property according to Jewish law (and the rabbis invariably support maximum property awards to them), and since a man's consent is required for divorce, which opens the door to extortion, men make haste to file with a Rabbinical Court. If the petition for divorce is filed together with a property claim, the District Court has no jurisdiction over it (although the Supreme Court has ruled that such joint claims must be made in good faith).

The relevant civil law is the Community Property Law that mandates a presumption of commonality regarding property acquired from a common effort. (The principle of the presumption of commonality also applied to couples married before the law took effect.) Over the years, the list of assets considered common property grows, and in order to prove that property is not common, the litigant must bring clear evidence that the property belongs to him/her alone, as a gift or sole inheritance.

In 1996, a new system of family courts began operating in Israel. Family Courts are designed as a replacement for the District and Local Courts that were authorised to rule in family-related matters. The goal of establishing Family Courts is to centralise family-related issues to one court, to shorten queues, and to nominate judges who will be experts in this field. However, rabbinical courts still have parallel jurisdiction over family matters related to divorce, and so women are still exposed to the discriminatory attitudes and decisions of the rabbinical courts.

[IWN's discussion of Article 16 in relation to Muslims has been deleted, because in general it repeats what is said in the NGO report from the Palestinian Working Group below. ed]

Second NGO report: from the Working Group on the Status of Palestinian Women in Israel

The Working Group on the Status of Women in Israel is a national network of representatives from Palestinian NGOs and individual activists. The Working Group formed in June 1996 to prepare an independent report on the status of Palestinian women for the CEDAW Committee, after learning that the first Initial report submitted to CEDAW by the Government of Israel had essentially neglected to discuss the situation of Palestinian women.

Working Group members worked in sub-committees to draft each of the sections of their report. Very little research has been done on Palestinian women in Israel, and thus, the Working Group's efforts have been a unique, pioneering effort for all of the contributors. The Working Group on the Status of Palestinian Women in Israel is comprised of the following members:

The Association of Women Against Violence (WAV) - Aida Toma-Suliman

The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) - Mohammed Zeidan, Hoda Rohana

Al Tufula Pedagogical Centre - Multi Purpose Women's Centre - Nabila Espanioly, Siham Badarne, Dr. Hala Espanioly Hazzan

Al Siwar - Arab Feminist Movement In Support of Victims of Sexual Abuse - Iman Kandalaft

The Haifa Crisis Shelter - Hoda Rohana

The Follow-up Committee on Arab Education - Dr. Hala Espanioly Hazzan, A'reen Usama Howari

The Committee for Educational Guidance for Arab Students - Advocate Suhad Bishara

Arabiya Mansour, Human Rights Activist

Rina Rosenberg, Human Rights Lawyer, Coordinator and Editor

[The report of the Working Group will be sent in its entirety directly by the Group to CEDAW sometime in June. IWRAW has reproduced here a summary of the original report. Sections which repeated general information from the IWN report were deleted, and some information which it is assumed will be in the government report has also been deleted. The Working Group has carefully limited its discussion to the situation of Palestinian women in Israel only. ed.]


Palestinian women in Israel - 'Her story'

Palestinian women in Israel today are part of the Palestinian people who remained in their homeland after the war of 1948. The role of women within the family and within Palestinian society has undergone dramatic change from the period of Ottoman rule (early sixteenth century to 1918) to the present. In the last three decades, as Arab women elsewhere, Palestinian women in Israel have moved away from traditionally imposed, passive and marginal roles into more active roles at all levels of their society. A review of the historical background is essential to an understanding of the process of change which Palestinian women in Israel have experienced over the years.

Ottoman Period (early Sixteenth century - 1918)

During the Ottoman period, Palestinian society was largely agricultural, and the land was the means of subsistence for the majority peasant population. In working the land, women and men together provided an income for the state and the landowning class, as well as for the hamoula, or extended family. Family and society was patriarchal and hierarchical. However, within the extended family the wife of the chief of the hamoula assumed command over all other women in the family, using the same hierarchical order employed by men.

Among the landowning class, women were largely segregated and confined to the domestic sphere. During this period, many of these women adopted the Ottoman habit of veiling their faces in an attempt to differentiate themselves from peasant women.1

British Mandate Period (1918-1947)

During this period, political, and economic developments led to the beginning of a structural change in the family, resulting in a crisis for the peasant class and the beginning of a transformation in women's roles. Many landowners sold their land to investors. Thousands of peasants became landless and were forced to seek shelter and waged labour in the cities. The beginning of proletarianization of the peasant class resulted in a decline of traditional relations within the family. New structures of land ownership and methods of farming served to strengthen the merchant class. This shift of power was further accompanied, and influenced to a certain degree, by an influx of European Jewish settlers who brought with them industrialised resources and capitalist aspirations. Agriculture remained the main source of income for ninety percent of the Palestinian population until 1948.

These social and political changes motivated urban Palestinian women, especially of upper and middle classes, to take action.2 For the first time, Palestinian women engaged in social activism, organising charitable societies in the major cities of Haifa, Akka, Jaffa, Nablus and Jerusalem,3 mainly during the years 1904-1916. After years of activism they gathered in October 1929 in Jerusalem for the first Palestinian women's conference.4

Palestinian women were also affected by the education boom in the Arab world during the late nineteenth century. Educational institutions for Palestinian girls were founded later. In 1924, for example, Nabiha Nasser, a leading women's rights activist, founded the Birzeit school, later to become Birzeit College, and in 1976, Birzeit University. Though the demand for girls education was increasing as Palestinians began to realise the important role education could play in helping them survive fast-changing circumstances, by the end of the British mandate, only one-third of Palestinian children were in school, one-fifth of whom were girls.5

Israeli military rule over the Palestinian community in Israel (1948-1966)

The increasing participation of Palestinian women in the public sphere stopped short as a result of the 1948 war, especially among those who remained within the new State of Israel. The war nearly destroyed Palestinian society. More than 480 (out of 573) Palestinian villages were totally destroyed. Of the Palestinian population, seventy-five percent or 750,000 people became refugees in neighbouring Arab countries. Only 150,000 Palestinians were able to stay within the new State of Israel, and of those who did, 40,000 found themselves internally displaced.6

Coupled with the Israeli government's policy of massive land expropriation,7 the effects of the war made it impossible to reclaim agriculture as a mainstay of Palestinian life. Palestinians experienced a further phase of proletarianization, impoverishment and underdevelopment.8 They became a minority dependent on the Jewish-dominated economy. Moreover, Israel introduced a sophisticated system of hegemony which included control and manipulation aimed at undermining the integrity of Palestinian national existence within the newly established state.9

Palestinians in Israel were isolated from other Arabs and segregated from Jews by military laws10 which controlled their daily lives. According to these laws, for example, Palestinians could not leave their villages for work, school or for any other reason without a permit from the military authorities. While the Israeli government granted citizenship to Palestinians in Israel, it did not recognise them as a national group; instead it called them Minorities, Israeli Arabs, and Non-Jews, but never Palestinians.

Subordination to Israeli Jewish institutions, exposure to the behaviours of westernised Jewish women, all intensified the threat to Palestinian male identity.11 Having lost control over their land and status, the Palestinian man remained in control of only one domain: his family, his wife and his children. In particular, the concept of Ard (honour) acquired new importance in light of men's fears and their sense of powerlessness.

The heritage of the past became the most salient source from which Palestinians in Israel could derive pleasure as a community and on which they could depend for protection and preservation of their identity. Centuries-old patriarchal tradition in this period gained considerable importance.12

Since Palestinian women were forced to stay at home because of military orders as well as restrictions placed on them by the men in their families, they were no longer able to support their families as producers, and thus lost status. Relegated to the private sphere and to domestic roles, Palestinian women assumed the role of preservers of culture. They were expected to maintain the continuity of Palestinian values, and to pass on traditions which reproduced their own subordinate status.13

While some positive changes took place in this period -- the Israeli Compulsory Education Law increased the rate of school attendance in the Palestinian community for boys and girls,14 and increased the demand for Palestinian teachers, creating opportunities for women to work -- on the whole, women's political and social status did not improve. On the contrary, no Palestinian women's organisation was established during this period except for the Democratic Women's Movement, a mixed Arab and Jewish women's organisation. While the economic recession (1965-1967) forced Palestinian women back into the work force, they served mostly as unskilled labourers.

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights and its immediate aftermath (1967-1975)

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Syrian Golan Heights after the 1967 War came as a terrible shock to Palestinians who had lived for years under the illusion that the Arab countries would eventually liberate them. The 1967 war destroyed this illusion, as well as that of a united Arab front bound by Egypt's Gamal Abdul-Nassar.

After 1967, demand for Israeli products increased employment opportunities for men and women. This process led to increased awareness of discrimination among Palestinian women in Israel, which, in turn, sparked increased political activism as they entered the labour market and the educational system. Palestinian women joined with men in intensifying demands for full national and civil rights and for recognition as a national minority.15 Most important, the Israeli occupation of 1967 dramatically stimulated the process of re-Palestinianization. News from the Arab world made its way into Israel, despite Israeli censorship. Meetings between Palestinians from Israel and from the Occupied Territories marked the political renewal of Palestinians in Israel. This renewed sense of national identity was reflected in widespread public political activity in which women were important participants.

Palestinians in Israel became more realistic as they became more politicised after 1967. They realised that they would have to find resources within themselves and began to create their own political programme. While some women continued their century old tradition of charitable organisations, others created new, highly political women's organisations affiliated with existing political groups. From 1969-1972, the number of female Palestinian students enrolled in Israeli universities more than doubled (from 141 to 305), while enrolment of male Palestinian students increased by only twenty-five percent (from 450 to 565).16 For the first time, women became involved in Arab Student Unions, known for their high level of political activism, and women voted for and were elected representatives and executives in these unions.

However, despite greater participation during these years in the labour market, education, and social and political organisations, the status of Palestinian women remained low.

Palestinian Women taking matters into their own hands (1975-1987)

Women had become more active, not only in family decision-making, but also in public life.17 In the 1986-1987 academic year, women constituted approximately forty-eight percent of all Palestinian students studying at Haifa University. They constituted nearly twenty-two percent of all Palestinians who had earned a first degree, and over thirty-two percent of all Palestinian academics in Israel.18 However, in comparison to women in the Occupied Territories, the achievements of Palestinian women in Israel seemed weak. In 1986, Palestinian women in higher education comprised only twenty percent of the Palestinian students in Israel;19 while women had reached forty percent among students in the Occupied Territories.20 This disparity, together with the fact that they were the lowest paid workers in the Israeli labour force,21 raised awareness of their oppression, and this became a prime factor in their mobilisation.

Women shifted their strategy from demonstrations to positive action. They organised committees to develop local services, especially in areas which were neglected by Israeli authorities, such as pre-school education, and developed support systems for women. Many of these committees have become important in creating an infrastructure of professional support for empowering women.

Like the rest of the Palestinian community in Israel, women faced a fundamental conflict between their civil identity as citizens of the State of Israel and their national identity as part of the Palestinian people. To date, this conflict remains crucial for many Palestinians in Israel, and individuals differ in the ways they attempt to resolve it. For those who see themselves sharing the same national identity and the same fate as the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories, the solution is to eliminate any differences between the two populations by establishing a Palestinian state. For those who see themselves as citizens of Israel, the solution is to eliminate differences between themselves and the Jewish population, and to strive for equality. The largest group of Palestinians in Israel attempts to solve the dilemma by asserting both that they are an integral part of the Palestinian people, and that they are unique because of historical circumstances. Their solution distinguishes between their civil identity as Israeli citizens and their national identity as Palestinians. As Israeli citizens, they demand their rights as a national minority, and they strive for Israel to become a state of all its citizens and not, as today, a self-defined Jewish state.

The Intifada (1987-1993)

[two paragraphs on the Intifada have been deleted from the original text in order to stay strictly within the topic. ed.]

While the direct effects of the Israeli military occupation and the Palestinian intifada on Palestinian women in Israel need to be studied more thoroughly, some consequences are already evident. First, the Occupation and the intifada have re-oriented Palestinians in Israel in national solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Second, Palestinian women in Israel expressed frustration at their helplessness, as there were very limited ways in which they could support their sisters. Finally, contact with activists from the Occupied Territories, with Israeli Jewish feminists, and with repressive Israeli political tactics has awakened in them a consciousness of the gender inequities within their own society. These responses, including responses to escalating conservatism and Islamic fundamentalism within Palestinian society, crystallised around the intifada.. New organisations, such as rape crisis centres and campaigns against violence against women, were created mainly by young educated Palestinian women who are establishing a feminist perspective. However, these women's organisations are still struggling toward self-definition, and feminist consciousness among Palestinian women in Israel remains diverse.

Post-Intifada, Peace Process (1993 - 1996)

The effect of the so-called peace process upon Palestinians in Israel, including women, is still too close to fully analyse. However, it is very clear that women's activities are increasingly concentrating on women's issues, in particular on support systems for women in distress, such as victims of physical and sexual violence. In addition, Palestinian women in Israel are also becoming increasingly involved in political parties, raising new demands to be part of the decision-making process. This was evident in the last election in May 1996. Recently, and for the first time, women were elected to share in the decision-making processes of the Follow-up Committee on Arab Education, a national NGO working towards the development of Palestinian education in Israel.22

However, the Islamic fundamentalist movement threatens many achievements of Palestinian women over the years. At the same time, The Working Group believes that this challenges women who recognise this threat to actively take part in controlling their own lives.


The right to vote.

In the last national election in May 1996, approximately the same percentage of Palestinian women as men voted for Prime Minister and for the Knesset (the legislature).

The right to vote is not dependent on any property or literacy requirement, however, all voters must possess basic reading skills in order to cast their ballot. This necessity poses serious obstacles for rural and elderly Palestinian women, approximately fifteen percent of whom are illiterate.23

Elective office

Since the establishment of the State, no Palestinian woman has been elected to the Knesset or has served as a Minister.

[the paragraphs detailing numbers of Palestinian women holding local elective offices up to and including the present have been deleted in the interests of brevity.]

Obstacles to political participation and participation in public life

A patriarchal society with clear peasant roots, decision-making and political representation among Palestinians is clearly a male prerogative. In particular, the elder men of the family hold the right of representation for the family as a whole. Qualities of leadership are viewed as male attributes and are contrary to what the society expects from women. Palestinian women are educated to concentrate on domestic rather than public issues, and to conform rather than oppose. Women's perception of themselves and their abilities is also an obstacle to their participation in politics and public life.

Furthermore, the gendered division of labour is very rigid within Palestinian society in Israel. Despite the fact that increasing numbers of Palestinian women are working outside their homes, the main responsibility for household tasks remains with them. This double work week, which Palestinian women share with other women in the world, is another obstacle to participation in political activities. Finally, the lack of support systems for Palestinian women who wish to enter political life, and the limited political opportunities for the Palestinian community in general, further act as obstacles to political participation.

The Israeli government has not taken any measures to support Palestinian women's representation in elected or appointed positions. The Knesset Sub-Committee on Women and some local authorities have encouraged local councils to establish women's councils in Palestinian villages. In the case of Palestinian women (and men) who hold government jobs, government policy has actually served as a limitation on women's political participation. Numerous Palestinian women who have retained temporary or permanent government positions report that the authorities exert various means of control to prevent them from engaging in political activities, including visits to their homes and family members to inform them that the woman's continuation of these activities will threaten her job. Palestinian women and men must undergo a security test in order to apply for a government job. This practice also serves to constrain involvement in public life.

International representation and participation

No Palestinian woman in Israel has been appointed to a diplomatic or to any other international post. No direct or indirect measures have been taken by the governments of Israel to ensure opportunities for Palestinian women to represent Israel at the international level. During the Labour government (1992-96) some Palestinian women sat the examination for a position with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. None of these women were offered a position. A few Palestinian women also submitted their resumes for consideration for an ambassadorial position..

Participation in non-governmental organisations

Palestinians in Israel formed NGOs mainly in the 1980s and 1990s to address various issues of concern to the community. Many of these NGOs are now directed by Palestinian women,24 and deal with issues such as early childhood education, higher education for women, violence against women, personal status laws and other issues. The number of these NGOs is increasing, and their roles are expanding. They play a very important role in building support systems for women, and at the same time creating spaces for women in public and political life.

Palestinian women in Israel were and continue to be actively involved in peace organisations. Today, some women are members of the "Jerusalem Link," an organisation with branches in East and West Jerusalem which mobilises Palestinian and Jewish women to contribute in various ways to the peace process, runs leadership seminars, and helps women to run for elective office. Palestinian women in these organisations have had the opportunity to prove themselves in leadership positions, to participate in decision-making, and to attend and present papers in national and international conferences.

EDUCATION - Convention Article 10

In Israel today, there are two segregated education systems: one for the Palestinian minority and the other for the Jewish majority. The Palestinian education system operates under the complete control of the Ministry of Education, which is run by and dominated by Jews.

While a separate 'Department for Education and Culture For Arabs' within the Ministry was formally dismantled in 1987, as part of a plan of dividing authority by region, in practice this distinct sphere concerning the education of Palestinian students still exists. A Head of the education system for Palestinian students, and regional directors, continue to deal with Palestinian schools differently than Jewish schools.

The Palestinian education system has no autonomy. The Ministry of Education defines the educational goals and the curriculum, appoints the officials, inspectors and teachers and allocates budgets, with complete discretion. In general, Palestinian schools receive less funding and maintain poorer facilities overall than their Jewish counterparts.

Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, successive governments have done nothing through the education system to promote, enhance or strengthen the feeling of a collective Palestinian identity among the Arab citizens of the State. To the contrary, the education system in Israel emphasises the "values of Jewish culture" and "love of the homeland and loyalty to the State and Jewish People," which are defined as objectives in the State Education Law (1953). The Netanyahu government, in line with these objectives, has formulated education guidelines and implemented policies designed to entrench these values. The 'Education' section of the government's policy guidelines states that "education will be grounded in the eternal values of the Jewish tradition, Zionist and Jewish consciousness, and universal values. The Book of the Books, the Bible, the Hebrew language, and the history of the Jewish people are the foundation stones of our national identity, and will take their rightful place in the education of the young generation.25 In line with these guidelines, the Education Minister formed an "Administration for Values Education" team to promote civic responsibility and commitment to the state.26

Discrimination against girls and women in Education

As emphasised in the introductory section, Palestinian women in Israel face three levels of discrimination: as members of the Palestinian minority, as women in Israel, and as women within Palestinian society in Israel.

1. Tracking

The Palestinian and Jewish education systems are composed of distinct 'tracks,' which determine students' courses of academic or vocational training at the secondary level, and later, at the college or university levels. In the Palestinian schools in Israel, there are nineteen technological tracks, as compared with more than ninety in the Jewish schools.27 In addition, students are led to various tracks according to stereotyped gender divisions. For example, female students find themselves directed to such fields as fashion, secretarial work, housekeeping and child day-care. Male students are most often directed to such fields as electronics, mechanics and carpentry. Both Jewish and Palestinian students are led to stereotypical gendered tracks; however, there are more options for Jewish girls than Palestinian girls.

All secondary students must take the "Bagrut' (or matriculation) exam in seven subjects in order to graduate. Arab students must choose seven subjects from thirteen, whereas Jewish students have twenty options. In 1996, twenty-three percent of all Arab students passed the Bagrut (only 5.9 percent of Arab students from the Negev succeeded) as compared with forty-five percent of Jewish students.28 Arab schools also offer fewer units of study for the Bagrut than their Jewish counterparts, placing Arab students at a disadvantage for university acceptance.

2. Career and Vocational Guidance and other Student Support Services

Only twenty-five percent of Palestinian schools, as compared with seventy-five percent of Jewish schools, benefit from career and vocational guidance services. Moreover, due to the low number of technological and other professional tracks in Palestinian schools, the opportunity for comprehensive career and higher educational guidance remains limited. The absence of career counselling centres, provided within the Jewish community for Jewish students, further limits Palestinian students' freedom of choice and opportunity, mainly concerning those who wish to enrol in universities.

As for psychological counselling available in schools, only thirty-two percent of Palestinian schools receive this benefit, whereas these services are available in eighty-one percent of Jewish schools. Only seven percent of Palestinian schools, as compared with fifty-eight percent of Jewish schools, benefit from both career guidance and psychological services.

3. Curriculum

In general, government Palestinian schools teach boys and girls together. The Islamic movement, which controls the municipality in Um El Fahem (an Arab city in the Triangle region), has succeeded in securing optional separate classes for boys and girls in the local public high school. No statistics or studies are yet available which would reveal the effects of this separation.

Overall, the curriculum in most Palestinian schools reflects the ideology of the State. Palestinian students learn more about Jewish and Zionist history, literature and culture, and very little about their Palestinian identity and heritage.

The texts used in Palestinian schools perpetuate gender stereotypes. For example, in primary school readers, a mother is shown as a homemaker and a father is shown as a carpenter. A mother who is portrayed working outside the home is usually a nurse or a secretary. For Jewish schools, the Ministry of Education has begun to remove gender-stereotyped texts, and to develop materials and curriculum that promote gender equality in education. These new texts and materials have not yet been introduced in Palestinian schools. The Ministry of Education offers no explanation for why gender-sensitive texts have not been introduced in Palestinian schools; there is simply no plan. There is a Department for Equality between the Sexes in the Ministry; however, no Arab educators work in this department. [The gender programme referred to here may be what the IWN report refers to in its Education section on IWRAW page 12 ed.]

In specific areas, such as sports, due to the shortage of gymnasiums in Palestinian schools, the boys play football in the school yard while the girls sit on the sidelines. Most sports for boys are limited to football, because this sport does not require much equipment or a professional coach.

4. Frameworks and infrastructure

Palestinian schools suffer from a shortage of qualified teachers, particularly in the southern Negev region. In 1995-96, the average number of pupils per teacher stood at 24.1 in Arab schools, and 12.4 in Jewish schools.29

Inferior buildings and insufficient facilities are also common. Moreover, within the existing facilities, in sixty-six percent of Palestinian schools there are no counsellor's rooms; in forty-one percent no rooms for nurses; in eighty percent no gymnasiums; in thirty-three percent no laboratories; and in thirty-seven percent no room for libraries.

Large numbers of Palestinian children with special needs do not have suitable schools or classes to meet those needs. Hundreds of students with special needs do not attend school at all.30

5. Dropping out

According to the State Comptroller's Report (1996), nearly nine percent of Arab students between the ages of 15 - 16 dropped out of school, as compared with less than half that percentage for Jewish students of the same age group. Among older students, aged 16 - 17, nearly forty percent of Arab students dropped out, as compared with nine percent for Jewish students. The Comptroller's Report did not provide disaggregated statistics for Arab girls and Jewish girls. The FUCAE estimates that the drop-out rate for Arab girls and boys is approximately equal.

Numerous programmes to promote excellence and prevent dropping out, implemented in Jewish schools, are not provided in Palestinian schools.

6. Illiteracy and levels of education

13.6 percent of Palestinian women over the age of fifteen, as compared with 4.3 percent of Jewish women in Israel had no schooling or were functionally illiterate. For close to forty-four percent of Palestinian women, primary school is the highest level of education obtained, exceeding the percentages in this category of any other group. Palestinian women who have attained only a fourth grade education are double the percentage of Palestinian men, and more than triple the percentage of Jewish women. At the same time, only thirteen percent of Palestinian women attain some schooling beyond the twelfth grade, the lowest percentage of any group.

7. University enrolment and studies; Teacher training colleges

Generally, Palestinian students do not benefit from grants and other forms of support for higher education, as do their Jewish counterparts who receive assistance from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Welfare and The Jewish Agency.31 These tuition grants or subsidies for accommodation are awarded almost exclusively to students who complete army service. Over ninety percent of Palestinian students do not serve in the army, pursuant to Israeli regulations.

The lack of grants and awards significantly affects the ability of Palestinian students to attend university in Israel. No special funds provide grants especially for Palestinian women. Namat, a department of the Histadrut, provides some small grants to Jewish women for particular fields of study, but few awards to Arab women. Only 3.2 percent of Palestinian women complete university in Israel, as compared with 13.6 percent of Jewish women.32

In universities, most Palestinian women study in the humanities and social sciences: social work, sociology, psychology and education. In teacher training colleges, more than ninety-five percent of the enrolled students are women.

8. Adult Education

There are very few education/vocational training classes for Palestinian adults in Israel. The educational framework is stereotypical -- Palestinian women are offered courses such as sewing, cooking, handicrafts, and child care.

9. The teaching profession and other positions in education.33

In recent years, the teaching profession has become largely a women's profession, in both the Jewish and the Palestinian communities in Israel. However, women teachers remain clustered at the primary school level. Nearly fifty-four percent of Palestinian women teachers are currently appointed to teach primary school. No Palestinian women hold positions of professor or lecturer at a university in Israel. A handful teach at colleges.

Men continue to dominate senior administrative decision-making and management positions, as well as higher education level appointments. Only five Palestinian women hold the position of principal in private Palestinian secondary schools; none hold this position in the government schools. Only seven Palestinian women hold the position of supervisor, six of whom work in the field of early childhood education and one of whom works in the field of special education. Only two hold professional positions in the curricula department for Palestinian schools in the Ministry of Education. No Palestinian women hold senior administrative positions in the education departments of the Palestinian municipalities and local councils; women work in these bodies only in a secretarial capacity.

EMPLOYMENT - Convention Article 11

According to official statistics, in 1994 approximately 253,000 Palestinian women in Israel were of working age, but only seventeen percent were working outside the home. However, much of Palestinian women's work is unreported and undocumented, such as farm work, office and house cleaning and childcare. Most of these women work for low wages and without benefits of any kind, and many work in oppressive conditions.

The Ministry of Labour in Israel provides professional training courses for special groups such as the unemployed and soldiers. Different courses are offered for the Jewish and the Palestinian communities, and for men and women. Although about eighty-three percent of Palestinian women are not employed and thus eligible to enrol in training courses, very limited opportunities are available to them. There are thirty-eight courses offered in the Galilee in the north, two in the Negev in the south, and two in the Triangle region in the centre of the country for Palestinian women. In the Galilee, the courses include: caregiving in nurseries, helping the elderly, sewing, gardening, dental assistance, data entry, cosmetics, and basic accounting. In the Negev and in the Triangle, caregiving in nurseries and sewing are the only courses offered. (This information was provided by the Office of the Ministry of Labour in a letter dated 23 February, 1995, which was sent to Ms. Nabila Espanioly, Director of the Al Tufula Centre, an Arab NGO in Israel which focuses on early childhood education and women's empowerment.) Ms. Espanioly requested that the Ministry provide more professional training courses for Palestinian women. The Ministry responded by outlining the courses mentioned above, and stated that no additional courses were necessary, as the Ministry already provided sufficient professional training opportunities for Palestinian women.

Most Palestinian women work in predominately low-paid "female positions" such as office work, nursing, primary school teaching, social work and assembly line factory work, particularly textile manufacturing. As wages, job responsibilities and educational qualifications increase, the percentage of Palestinian women in these positions diminishes. Palestinian women in Israel earn only fifty percent of what Jewish women earn, and Jewish women earn only seventy percent of what Jewish men earn.

The following table illustrates the percentage of Palestinian women engaged in particular fields of work in 1981 and 1994.34


Occupational Category
Academic professionals
Professional (teachers, nurses, social workers)
Farm Workers (agriculture)

Manual (assembly-line textile)

[*as odd as this set of figures seems, this is the way it appears in the report of the Office of the Prime Minister, according to the Working Group editor. ed.]

In agriculture, one explanation for the increase is the growth of Israel's export market. Although only seven percent of the Palestinians in Israel work in agriculture, eighty percent are women.

Arab women textile workers in Israel

Israel's growing textile industry, over the last two decades, opened more than one hundred small workshops and a few factories in many Arab villages. The exclusively male managers of these small enterprises usually act as sub-contractors to the big factories primarily located in the major cities or abroad, and they employ thousands of young Arab women. Recent newspaper accounts say that Arab women constitute approximately thirty-three percent of the entire workforce.

Conditions in these workshops are oppressive: the majority have no heating or air-conditioning, many workers are crowded into small spaces, and extra hours are often mandated by employers, often with no overtime compensation. Some Palestinian women have been working under these conditions for fifteen to twenty years, earning less than the minimum wage.

During the last three years, many of these workshops closed down or drastically cut their staff. Ha'aretz, the leading Hebrew newspaper, reported in October 1996 that fifty-nine small sewing factories have closed since January 1996, thirty-one textile factories have closed entirely, and others have cut their workforce. Al Sahar, an Arabic newspaper, reported in September 1996 that 150 workshops operating in the Arab villages had closed, leaving thousands of unemployed Arab women. Both the Hebrew and Arabic press in Israel are replete with articles and reports about the textile crisis. The attraction of low-paid workers, which brought Jewish investors to the Arab villages two decades ago, is now taking them to Jordan and Egypt, where women earn considerably less than Palestinian women in Israel.

On the national political level:

As mentioned in the introduction, before the establishment of the State of Israel, Palestinian women were primarily engaged in family-based agricultural work, and they had status as productive members of the family. Today, Palestinian women's economic power has drastically decreased, and very limited alternatives have been created by the government or by the Palestinian community in the villages, towns and cities.

As a result of discriminatory policies adopted through the years by the Israeli government, limited work opportunities are available to the Palestinian community as a whole. There is little industrialisation and inadequate infrastructure in the Palestinian villages and towns. The Israeli government has put substantial resources into industrialisation projects near some villages and towns, but most of these areas have predominately Jewish populations. There has been a continuous rise in unemployment in Palestinian community in Israel, and its members are clustered in the lowest status, lowest paid jobs.

Palestinian women are the first to be affected by unemployment and are the poorest group within the community. Those who can leave their villages to enter vocational training programmes, colleges and universities, usually find it difficult to continue their studies for financial, cultural or social reasons. The majority of job training centres hold traditional courses for Palestinian women in sewing, hairdressing and handicrafts, but not technical or other more lucrative occupational skills. The only possibilities for relevant/professional training are with NGOs.

The limited availability of childcare facilities in Palestinian villages forces women to limit their working hours outside the home. Palestinian villages in general have been unable to develop services for working women, primarily because of their limited budgets from the various government ministries. The Palestinian local councils and municipalities receive one-third of what is allotted to their Jewish counterparts.

Gender stereotyping within the Palestinian community in Israel

Palestinian society in Israel considers women's basic role to be childrearing and managing household affairs. Women are expected to give priority to these roles if a conflict develops between work and family. Palestinian women believe that their work outside the home must not be at the expense of their family. A corollary of this is the widely held belief among Palestinian women that men's advancement is primary, and in cases of conflict, women must relinquish their own prospects outside the home so that their men may advance. Many Palestinian women work outside the home solely to help raise the economic situation of their families, not for personal ambition or career advancement. Palestinian women are raised to follow and to depend on men. This leads many of them to underestimate their abilities and to lack self-confidence.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN - Convention Articles 3, 5, 6, 12, 15 and 16

A Palestinian woman in Israel against whom violence has been committed and who seeks help must face societal norms which legitimise violence; an often unsupportive official system of police officers, judges, and social service workers; her own internal feelings of guilt, shame and blame; and her economic and social dependency. Until approximately ten years ago, violence against women was considered a taboo subject in Israel, something that had to be dealt with exclusively within the domestic sphere. Only recently, women's organisations and women's rights activists have succeeded in opening the issue for public discussion and in creating new support systems for women.

Honour killing

Every year Palestinian women and girls in Israel are murdered by their family members for a perceived violation of the code of "family honour." In the last seven years, women's organisations have documented fifty-two honour killings. 35 This number does not reflect the full extent of the problem, as many women are missing and their fate is unknown.

Judicial proceedings are often influenced by the fact that Palestinian society condones honour killing for purposes of protecting family honour. Most judges and the police still regard these acts as the private concern of the family and as a phenomenon that stems from the social norms and values of traditional Palestinian society, thus concluding that their judgements must be culturally sensitive. For this reason, many judges accept the argument that the murderer lost control of himself in a moment of temporary insanity. These judges view the murderer himself as a victim of the same values and norms which perpetuate honour killing. This is also apparent in the manner in which the state prosecutor charges the accused. Rather than pursuing a charge of pre-meditated murder, the accused is charged with the lesser crime of manslaughter.

Likewise, the Israeli police often mishandle cases of Palestinian females whose lives are endangered by their families. Women who file complaints with the police are not taken seriously, and their problems are often ignored. Frequently, they are returned home because of the widely accepted belief that the place of a Palestinian women is in her home.

Physical Violence

Women's organisations and other researchers estimate that the instances of domestic violence in the Palestinian community do not deviate significantly from the estimates for the country as a whole. Recently, Dr. Mohammed al Haj Yehiye36conducted research on domestic violence in the Palestinian community, and found that twenty-five percent of Palestinian women are abused at least one time per year; fifty percent are abused at least once during their married life; and .5 percent are abused on a weekly basis. An additional study, commissioned by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and conducted in co-ordination with thirty-nine welfare offices in the north of Israel, found that in every fourth family, there is chronic physical violence against women and/or children.37

In June 1991, the Knesset, passed The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA). This law regulates restraining orders and the procedures and penalties for their violation. The law, however, does not adequately safeguard battered women in general, and battered Palestinian women in particular.

In the Palestinian community in Israel, extended families typically reside in the same multi-level homes or in close proximity. Young couples generally live above the home of the male's parents, and very close to his other male relatives. The most commonly issued restraining order requires the violent husband merely to stay away from the house, and is insufficient if the woman continues to live in the home, as she is surrounded by her husband's family, who often continue to threaten or abuse her. Moreover, the husband's family usually give him a place to live which is very close to his wife. For these reasons, many Palestinian women do not feel that the PDVA effectively protects them.

Also, many police officers do not serve the restraining order directly on the violent spouse, but give it to the woman to give to her husband. This practice further endangers the woman and can prevent her from utilising the order.

Despite the new law, light sentences are handed down, including fines or community service. These punishments are not significant deterrents against abuse.

Sexual Abuse

In all of Israel, only two rape crisis centres serve the Palestinian community: one in Haifa and one in Nazareth. Statistics compiled by these centres show that most assaults reported by Palestinian females are incest or rape by an acquaintance. It is important to note that the statistics on rape in the Palestinian community in Israel are based solely on the reports received by the Haifa and Nazareth rape crisis centres, which together total nearly 250 women per year. The Haifa Rape Crisis Centre, which serves both the Jewish and Palestinian communities, reports that approximately twenty percent of all calls per year are from Palestinian women. An unknown number of women choose to keep rape and sexual abuse secret rather than expose themselves to the judgement of their families, neighbours, and community.

Statistics from the two crisis centres indicate that only about twenty percent of all female victims of sexual violence file complaints with the police, and that the majority of these complaints never go to trial because the cases are closed for lack of evidence. Many victims of sexual violence do not immediately report the crime, further complicating the process of collecting evidence and bringing the case to court.

Over fifty percent of the Palestinian women who turn to the Haifa Rape Crisis Centre for assistance do so as much as one year after the actual assault. The majority of Palestinians who turn to the Haifa Rape Crisis Centre are young, unmarried women who kept the violence to themselves for a long time. In general, these women do not share their stories with their family members, and are extremely concerned that their confidentiality be respected. Many Palestinian women do not know that rape crisis centres exist, or that they can receive confidential support and assistance in Arabic. Also, many Palestinian women are not free to use the telephone without the supervision or presence of their family members. Additionally, many women are not aware that sexual violence is against the law.

When a Palestinian woman is a victim of a sexual offence, there is the additional problem of language. When there is no translation of the proceedings, the woman often loses confidence and cannot adequately testify. In many instances, the prosecutor does not adequately prepare the woman for the proceedings, and the court does not supply translation when necessary.38

Problems with how the police handle cases of violence against women.

The lack of guidelines on how to deal with cases of physical or sexual violence against women leaves the handling of these cases up to the discretion of individual police officers, station chiefs, and investigating officers. These law enforcement officers often do not undergo any gender-sensitive training, and are inadequately prepared. Many police officers try to persuade women to reconcile with their spouses, rather than registering or investigating their complaints. Cases are also often closed because of lack of "public interest," or cancelled solely on the basis of a telephone conversation with the woman complainant. Medical examinations are not always carried out, despite the fact that the results may prove to be vital evidence of a sexual assault. Moreover, complaints are not immediately investigated, and oftentimes a long period lapses before an investigator is even assigned to the case.

Recently, women's organisations have begun to implement training workshops to raise the level of awareness among police officers who work in the Palestinian community, and to train them for work with women victims of sexual and physical violence. These training sessions are implemented at the initiative and the expense of the women's organisations, and are not mandatory for the police officers.

There are now two Arab women police investigators, one in Nazareth and one in Upper Galilee. In all other police stations that serve the Palestinian community, women victims of sexual violence are interrogated by male police officers who may be a relative of the victim or even the offender. In instances where the police officer knows either or both the victim and the offender.

Government policy on issues of violence against women

Violence against Palestinian women is considered rare and a specific problem of the Palestinian community in Israel. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, which is responsible for assistance to women victims of violence, is poorly funded and inadequately staffed. Further, there is a large discrepancy in the resources allocated to the Jewish community and to the Palestinian community, with the latter critically under-staffed and under-funded. The Israeli government runs two domestic violence prevention centres in the Palestinian community in Israel - one in Nazareth and one in Tirah - which serve the entire population. These centres provide treatment and counselling for couples who have physically violent and abusive relationships, and are staffed by Palestinian social workers.

The Role of NGOs

One long-term shelter serves battered Palestinian women, out of 10 existing shelters in Israel. Founded in 1993, this shelter, with bed space for twelve women and twenty children, is located in a Palestinian village in the Galilee, in the north of the country, and is run by Women Against Violence (WAV), a Palestinian NGO. The only other facility with a Palestinian social worker is the short term Haifa Women's Crisis Shelter, founded in 1995. Approximately twenty-five percent of requests for shelter from Palestinian women are denied for lack of space.

Shelters in Israel are chronically under-staffed and cannot meet all of the needs of the women whom they serve. There are three emergency hotlines in the Palestinian community, all of which are run by voluntary organisations and are supported largely by the contributions of overseas donors, with some support from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.


The Compulsory National Health Insurance Law, which took effect in January 1995, assures the provision of primary health care services, and declares egalitarian health services as a guiding principle. According to the Law, each citizen is guaranteed health insurance, and has the right to equal and adequate health services. The Law mandates that the Minister of Health form a health council to define the parameters of health services for all citizens "within reasonable distance, within reasonable time, and of reasonable quality." The Minister appointed only one Palestinian man and no Palestinian women to the forty-six member council.

Accessibility of health services to Palestinian women

To some extent, the new law has increased the availability of health services to Palestinian women in Israel. However, great disparities still exist in the availability of health services, despite Israel's limited geographic size, between the Palestinian and Jewish communities. In 1985, Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh, former Director of The Galilee Society, the Arab National Society for Health Research and Services, conducted a study comparing the curative and preventative health services available in eight Palestinian localities with those available in eight Jewish areas. His research showed that Palestinian communities received approximately half the services of those offered in the Jewish localities.39 The Ministry of Health likewise acknowledged a gap of some thirty to forty percent in the level of available health services for Palestinian and Jewish communities in Israel for 1992.40

A more recent study found that no gynaecological services were available in a large number of Palestinian villages and towns in Israel, and forty-two percent of Palestinian women are forced to travel to other localities to obtain these services.41 Ultrasound examinations and neonatal screening tests for pregnant women are usually performed in hospitals located in large cities, relatively far from Palestinian localities. It is even more difficult for Palestinian women to obtain papsmears, mammographies, and similar examinations. Emergency services, such as ambulances, are available in roughly one-quarter of Palestinian localities.42

As mentioned in the Education section, many Palestinian schools lack basic health services: forty-two percent do not have nurses, sixty-seven percent do not have mental health services, and ninety-three percent do not provide health education classes.43 This particularly affects Palestinian girls, in the short term, as they lack sufficient preventative care, and in the long term, when they become responsible for their families' health care needs. Health service centres for teen-agers are not available in the Palestinian communities in Israel.44

[Detailed information provided under Article 11 in the complete Working Group report has been considerably abbreviated. ed.]

Primary Health Services in the Unrecognised Arab Villages 45

Nowhere is the inequity between Arabs and Jews in Israel more obvious than in the case of the unrecognised Arab villages. Some of these villages existed prior to 1948, while others were formed by Arabs displaced by the war after 1948. These communities are populated mostly by Bedouin, and most estimates place the number of inhabitants of these areas between 40,000 to 60,000. The unrecognised villages were declared illegal by the National Planning and Building Law (1965) when the land on which they sit was re-zoned as non-residential and ownership was claimed by the State. The villages are thus afforded no official status: they are excluded from government maps, they neither have local councils nor belong to other local governing bodies, and they receive no government services. The government refuses to allow any infrastructure development and thus prohibits the building and repairing of homes, and the construction of paved roads or proper sewage facilities. The Israeli authorities use a combination of house demolitions, land confiscations, denial of services and other restrictions to dislodge residents from the villages. Official government policy is to re-locate residents to other localities in order to use the land for the creation and expansion of Jewish cities and towns.

The withholding of basic services has severely affected the health of all the residents of these areas.46 Only a handful of NGO-operated mobile health clinics operate. Four primary health care clinics, which had been established by The Galilee Society, were transferred to the Ministry of Health on the condition that the Ministry would operate them on a permanent basis. In January 1995, one of the four facilities, located in the village of Arab Na'im (population 450), was closed down by the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of the Interior denied the facility the necessary permit to place a caravan or any other permanent or mobile structure on the land to house the clinic.

As a result of the lack of health services, two-thirds of Bedouin women do not receive any prenatal care. The majority of the Bedouin are compelled to travel a long distance in order to receive medical attention. These women, especially, lack education about matters of family planning. The infant mortality rate among the Bedouin population is twenty-three per 1000 live births. The neonatal mortality rate in this community is 2.3 times higher than that in the Jewish community, and the post-neonatal mortality rate is 4.6 times higher. Many medical problems, such as bladder infections, miscarriages, and skin diseases can be traced back to the difficult living conditions in the villages and the lack of health services.47

Four clinics established by The Galilee Society, The Arab National Society for Health Research and Services, were transferred to the Ministry of Health on the condition that the Ministry would operate them on a permanent basis. In January 1995, one of the four facilities, located in the village of Arab Na'im (population 450), was closed down by the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Interior denied the facility the necessary permit to place a caravan or any other permanent or mobile structure on the land to house the clinic.

In general, low rates of prenatal care and immunisation of children, high rates of infant mortality, and many other medical problems traceable to the poor living conditions in the unrecognised villages characterise women's health in these areas.

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LAW - Convention Article 16

According to Article 51(a) of the British Mandatory Law of 1922, which is still applicable, all recognised religious communities in Israel have their own religious legal courts: the Rabbinical courts for the Jews, and the Muslim, Christian and Druze courts for the Arabs. An individual's religious affiliation determines which court has jurisdiction over her/his personal status and family law matters. The British Mandatory Law and subsequent more recent laws enacted by the Knesset determine the jurisdiction of these courts.

The newer Israeli laws vest concurrent or parallel authority in the civil courts -- for Jews and Druze -- on issues of child custody, inheritance, property rights, and for Christians on child custody and support. Thus, Jewish and Druze women, and Christians on limited issues, have the option to choose the civil or religious courts on these particular personal status matters. The Muslim religious courts retain exclusive jurisdiction over all personal status matters, and thus Arab Moslem women do not have the option to choose civil courts on these particular issues.

Issues of marriage and divorce -- for all religious groups -- continue to be exclusively within the jurisdiction of the religious courts. Couples cannot get married in civil court in Israel; only religious marriages are permitted. Couples that do not want a religious marriage, or 'mixed couples' (couples of two different religions) must marry outside of the country, and then they may register as a married couple upon their return to Israel. If a civilly married couple wishes to get divorced, they must apply to the President of the Supreme Court for a decision as to which court governs their divorce, as the jurisdiction of the religious courts in personal status and family laws issues requires, as an indispensable condition, that both parties belong to the same religion served by that court. This procedure is very costly and time-consuming.

The exclusive jurisdiction of the Arab Moslem, Christian and Druze religious courts (MCD) strengthens the importance of these courts, and demands maximum efficiency in work and fairness. Two main problems of the religious courts with jurisdiction over the Arab religious communities include:


    1. Lack of government funding. The Ministry of Religion supervises and allocates funds to all of the religious courts, and maintains a special department in charge of each religious community. The Ministry of Religion does not divide its budget proportionally between each religious community. Because of the small amount that is allocated to the Arab MCD religious communities, the MCD courts lack facilities, personnel and equipment. For regional Sharia courts function only part-time.
    2. No Arab women judges. The Muslim, Christian and Druze courts do not allow Arab women to serve as judges. Each of these religious communities accepts only male judges. Thus, the whole legal religious system of power, which has the exclusive authority to decide personal status issues, does not recognise women as worthy to serve as judges. The Ministry of Religion appoints religious court judges.

The jurisdiction of Religious Courts

Religious courts generally decide cases according to religious laws, which in many instances discriminate against women and afford them an inferior status. The Knesset may and does pass legislation concerning personal status that is binding on religious courts, but enforcement has been weak. Particular areas of concern to Palestinian women include:



    Polygamy: the Women's Equal Rights Law (1951) declares that women and men are equal. However, an exception to the Law, in Article 5, provides that the law does not apply to matters relating to the prohibition and the permission of marriage and divorce. Thus, a law which ostensible promotes equality, permits the maintenance and application of religious laws which discriminate against women on these issues. Attempts to solve this problem by making polygamy a criminal offence have not helped and have proven to be ineffective, as enforcement is weak. Article 176 of the Penal Law (1977) prohibits polygamy. It provides that "a married man who marries another woman, and a married woman who marries another man, should be sentenced to five years in jail." According to the law, polygamous marriage contravenes a woman's right to equality with men, and can serious emotional and financial consequences for her dependants.


    The 1977 Penal Law directly contradicts Shari'a law. According to the Shari'a, men are allowed to have four wives. The Ministry of Interior repeatedly ignores the official marriage registers which show marriages to a second, third or fourth wife, fostering a 'conspiracy of silence' surrounding the issue of polygamy. However, it is possible to track these marriages; for example, when a new wife gives birth to a child in hospital the vital information, including the identity of the father, is passed along to the Ministry of the Interior. The failure of the system to track these men causes women to lose faith in the system and to remain silent.


    Forced marriages: The right to choose when and whom to marry is still not protected by Israeli law. In practice, particularly in the Moslem community, and especially among the Bedouin, young women are sold in marriage to older men by their fathers or other male relatives. Families often decide who a daughter will marry from the day of her birth. In some cases, women do not sign their own marriage contracts. The Ministry of the Interior has the ability to track these cases.


    Divorce: according to the concept of Ela'sma under Shari'a law, the husband has the power to decide if and when to divorce his wife or wives, but the wife or wives have this right in only very limited and rarely used ways. If a divorced couple wish to re-marry, the wife must marry another man and divorce him before the couple can remarry. The Shari'a courts in Israel today uphold practices such as these. Similarly, once an Arab woman is divorced, the Interior Ministry refuses to register her children on her passport, or issue a passport to the children, without the signature of her former husband. The Interior Ministry does allow Jewish divorced women to register their children without the consent of her former spouse.



    Child custody: according to Israeli law, all courts that have jurisdiction to decide child custody matters, civil or religious, must determine according to two main principles -- the best interests of the child, and the equal right of the two parents to obtain custody. In order to determine the best interests of a child, civil court judges order a report prepared by a social worker which details the particular facts and circumstances regarding the welfare of the child. Civil court judges usually determine the cases according to the recommendations provided by the social workers, unless there are unusual circumstances. Religious court judges, are not required to obtain a social worker's report, and in general, rarely request them. In the few cases in which such a report is ordered, the judges do not take it into account in their decision. The problem is most severe in Moslem religious courts. (Civil courts have parallel jurisdiction with Christian and Druze courts on the issue of child custody.) Moslem religious courts usually award custody of children up to six years old to the mother, and then automatically move the children to the father when they reach the age of seven. Where Moslem parents have a child outside of marriage, the civil court has jurisdiction in the matter of child custody, as Islamic law does not recognise this union.


    Marital property: according to Israeli civil law, property gained during marriage is owned equally by both partners. However, many Moslem marriage contracts contain a provision that in the case of divorce, the couple agrees that religious law solely governs, and that the joint property law does not apply. A recent Supreme Court decision ruled that this provision does not cancel a woman's right to sue for community property. Many women do not know about this decision and thus do not exercise their right.




    Child marriages: According to the Age of Marriage Law (1950), marriage is permitted for young women and men at age seventeen in Israel. However, this law is not effectively enforced.






1 N. Abdo, Family, Women and Social Change in the Middle East: The Palestinian Case (Canadian Scholars Press, 1987). back


2 M. Rishmawi, The legal status of Palestinian women in the occupied territories, in N. Toubia, ed. Women of the Arab World (Zed Books, 1988), pp. 79-92. back

3 Encyclopedia Palestina, Special Studies: Volume III and IV (Encyclopedia Palestina Corporation, 1990). back

4 R. Giacaman and M. Odeh, "Palestinian Women's Movement in the Israeli Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip," in N. Toubia, ed. Women of the Arab World (Zed Books, 1988), pp. 57-68; F. Fawzia, Palestine, in R. Morgan, ed. Sisterhood is Global: The International Womens Movement Anthology (Anchor Books, 1984), pp. 536-539; and M. Rishmawi. back

5 K. Warnock, Land Before Honour: Palestinian Women in the Occupied Territories (Monthly Review Press, 1990). back

6 The preceding figures were compiled from various sources including E. Said, The Question of Palestine (Vintage Books, 1992). back

7 S. Jirys, The Arabs in Israel (Monthly Review, 1976). back

8 N. Abdo. back

9 I. Lustick, Arabs in the Jewish State: Israels Control of a National Minority (Texas University Press, 1980). back

10 Y. Peled, Ethnic democracy and the legal construction of citizenship: Arab citizens of the Jewish state, American Political Science Review, 86, 2: pp. 432-443. back

11 M. Mari and S. Mari, The role of women as change agents in Arab society in Israel, in M. Safir, M. Mednick, D. Izraeli and J. Bernard, eds., Womens World: From the New Scholarship (Praeger, 1985), pp. 251-259 (in Hebrew). back

12 N. Abdo. back

13 F. Shaloufeh Khazan, Change and mate selection among Palestinian women in Israel, in B. Swirski and M. Safir, eds., Calling the Equality Bluff: Women in Israel (Pergamon Press, 1991), pp. 82-89. back

14 E. Yisraeli, Adult education in the Arab Druze sector, Studies in Education, 25: pp. 139-154 (in Hebrew). back

15 M. Mari and S. Mari. back

16 Id. back

17 E. Touma, Liberation of Arab women not sexual crisis, Haifa Al-Jadeed, 12 December 1981 (in Arabic). back

18 M. Al-Haj, ed. Problems of employment for Arab academics in Israel, Middle East Studies, 8 (1988), The Jewish-Arab Center University of Haifa. back

19 The Statistical Yearbook for Israel, Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), 1989, Jerusalem. back

20 CBS 1982 & 1985. back

21 CBS 1992. Palestinian women in Israel earn only 60% of what Jewish women in Israel earn. Jewish women earn only 70% of Jewish mens income. back

22 Dr. Hala Hazzan, a member of The Working Group on the Status of Palestinian Women, which prepared this report, is a women who was elected in 1995 as Chairperson of The Follow-up Committee on Arab Education, a senior decision-making position. back

23 A. Farris, "The Status of Arab Women in the Job Market in Israel," Office of the Prime Minister, May 1996 (in Hebrew). Only eleven percent of all Palestinian women in Israel complete more than thirteen years of study. back

24 These include Women Against Violence (WAV), Al-Tufula Centre, The Haifa Rape Crisis Center, The Follow-up Committee on Arab Education, The Follow-up Committee on Social Issues, The Committee for Educational Guidance for Arab Students, Al-Fanar, The Movement of Democratic Women, Al-Sindiana, and The Akka Women's Association-Pedagogical Center. back

25 See Jerusalem Post, 18 June, 1996 and Ha'aret, 17 June, 1996. See also David Rudge, "Israeli Arabs Concerned Over New Government's Minority Guidelines," Jerusalem Post, 20 June, 1996. back

26 See Zevulun Hammer (the current Minister of Education), "Project Perspective," Jerusalem Post, 17 November, 1996. back

27 As cited in an unpublished paper presented by the Fund for Promoting Technological Education in the Arab Community in Israel to the 'Equality Conference' held in Nazareth in December 1996. back

28 Ha'aretz, 14 April, 1997, citing statistics released by the Ministry of Education. back

29 The Statistical Yearbook of Israel, Central Bureau of Statistics, 1996, Tables 22.9,22.15. back

30 Figures cited by Ha'aretz, 11 April, 1997 from statistics compiled by Bizchut, an Israeli NGO concerned with disability rights. back

31 Report of The Committee for Educational Guidance for Arab Students, 1996. back

32 CBS 1996, Table 22.1 back

33 Statistics appearing in this section were compiled from CBS 1995. back

34 Office of the Prime Minister's Report, p. 44. back

35 This number is based on reports documented in the Israeli press, and the work of 'Albadeel' (The Alternative), a coalition of organizations and individuals which was established following the murder of Ichlas Qanaan, from the village Rameh in 1994. 'Albadeel' monitors trials and legal decisions regarding the murder of women in the name of "family honour." Additional statistics have not been compiled. back

36 Dr. al Haj Yehiye, a Professor of Social Work, formerly with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, conducted a survey based on a limited number of women and reached these stated conclusions. back

37 Data for this study was compiled from welfare offices in both the Jewish and Palestinian communities. back

38 This information comes from the Courtwatch Project of the Haifa Women's Coalition for 1993-94. back

39 As reported in Equality Information Report, Avda Center, Tel-Aviv (1992). back

40 Ibid. back

41 "Health Services in the Arab Community in Israel," 'The Galilee Society', The Arab National Society for Health Research and Services (1995) (unpublished report). back

42 Id. back

43 Id. back

44 Id. back

45 The information contained in this section is also found in "Housing for All? Implementation of the Right to Adequate Housing for the Arab Palestinian Minority in Israel," A Report for the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on the Implementation of Article 11.1 of the United Nations CESCR, written and published by The Arab Coordinating Committee on Housing Rights, Israel (ACCHRI), April 1996, pp. 67-68. This report is available from The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA), Nazareth, Israel. back

46 To date, no study exists which particularly focuses on the health care of and other health-related issues concerning Palestinian women in the unrecognized villages in Israel. back

47 Report of the Association for Support and Defense of Bedouin Rights in Israel, 1995. back




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