Implementation of Procedural Justice in Planning Decision Making. Case Study: The Arab Palestinian Townships in Israel

Enaya Banna-Jeries and Professor Arza Churchman

tDecision makers and planners in the spatial planning system are confronted by new practices suggested by public participation methodologies based on theories of justice. These new practices require changes in the approaches that they previously relied upon. Such approaches should be comprehensive and aim to suggest integrated solutions to critical issues. These solutions provide appropriate and equitable decisions, especially for indigenous and disadvantaged groups like the Palestinian Arabs in Israel, taking into consideration their special status and rights.  Arabs in Israel comprise 20% of the State’s total population.  As indigenous people, they are landowners of most of the land belonging to Arab localities.  However, as a minority group, they suffer from low socio-economic status and an inappropriate degree of participation in the planning decisions.

This research suggests a new theoretical development that integrates two fields of procedural justice and public participation in planning, with the rights discourse, as a basis for implementation of a just process of decision making in planning. As part of this development, the research deals with the basic questions and theoretical arguments regarding procedural justice theory.   It suggests an addition to the procedural justice rules in order to achieve more appropriate approaches to be implemented in the decision making process. This theoretical development is the basis for the implementation of the empirical research, as an evaluation and examination of the planning process.  The research aims to develop a model and suggest tools to implement just process of decision making in the future.

The research focuses on two levels: (1) the collective property and participation rights in decision making; and (2) the social-cultural characteristics of the Arab society. These two levels, in addition to procedural justice rules, were the criteria for examining public participation of Arabs in the planning decision-making process. The focus is on the procedure of decision making in the preparation and approving of local master plans.

The research examines whether public participation in planning promotes procedural justice in the Arab community. This includes examining whether planning takes into consideration the unique spatial characteristics and land rights of Arabs as an indigenous and disadvantaged minority. The analysis will focus on the implementation of the procedural justice rules, both the general and the contextual, as well as public participation procedures. The research is implemented in two tracks:  (1) examination of the public participation procedures in decision making before the discussion of the local Master Plans in the district planning committee (informal process); (2) examination of the decision-making procedure within the district planning committee (formal process by the Israeli Planning and Building Law).

This research will significantly contribute to the field in various ways:

  1. It suggests a further development to the procedural justice theory in two tracks: Inclusion of the local context that contains the local, cultural, social, and political characteristics; and  Adding basic human rights to the theoretical debate.
  2. Suggestion of an updated frame work to the procedural justice rules.
  3. Implementation of procedural justice rules in public participation in Arab planning.