NGOs warn: Gov’t plan will displace thousands of Bedouin

Bedouin village in Negev (Photo: Ronit Sela)A Bedouin village in Negev (Photo: Ronit Sela)

Ahead of a hearing in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on the draft law on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev (known as the “Prawer-Begin Plan”), members of the Alliance of Organizations for Equality and Justice for the Bedouin wrote to the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and members of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation urging them not to promote the bill in its current form.

In the letter, the Alliance members emphasize that the law’s planning procedures are excepted to cause the displacement and forced eviction of dozens of villages and tens of thousands of Bedouin residents, dispossessing them of their property and historical rights to the lands, destroying the social fabric of their communities, and sealing the fate of thousands of families into poverty and unemployment.  All this while the government simultaneously promotes the establishment of new Jewish communities, some of which are even planned to be built on the fresh ruins of Bedouin villages.

The Alliance members also cite the representatives of these villages’ repeated attempts to engage the government in dialogue regarding the plan, and the repeated rebuffs of the government.

The Alliance members assert that the law and the policy that it embodies, are based on a faulty premise that views Bedouin as invaders and ignores the fact that most of the villages have existed in their present locations since before the establishment of the State (while the others were created by forced displacement of the residents under martial law in the 1950s).

The Alliance members continue to maintain that a just and feasible solution requires, firstly, the recognition of the fact that Bedouin residents of unrecognized villages are equal citizens with equal rights.  The unrecognized villages must be recognized and planned according to fair planning standards, and the land ownership rights of the Bedouin population must be formally acknowledged.

The Alliance includes the Regional Council for Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, Shatil, Rabbis for Human Rights, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the Mossawa Center – the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, the Community Advocacy Foundation, and the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality.

In addition, ACRI Attorney Rawia Aburabia and Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara yesterday sent a letter to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, presenting a legal analysis of the bill.  The bill outlines a framework for the implementation of government policies toward the Bedouin population on two separate issues: one, the evacuation of unrecognized villages in the Negev, and two, the settlement of ownership of lands in the Negev.  The bill is based on the absolute negation of the Bedouin population’s rights to property and historical ties to the land, in violation of the residents of the unrecognized villages’ basic rights.

With regard to both the issues of the recognition of villages and acknowledgement of ownership, the government has taken a path that ignores factual realities, fails to undertake a serious examination of alternatives, and demonstrates a clear intent to oust the residents in manner that violates their constitutional rights to property, equality and dignity.


Related Links:

  • To read the Alliance’s letter to the Committee (in English) click here.
  • To read the Alliance’s letter to the Committee (in Hebrew) click here.
  • To read the joint letter from ACRI and Adalah (in English) click here.
  • To read the letter from ACRI and Adalah (in Hebrew) click here.
  • For an English translation of the Begin Plan, click here.
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Categories: Arab Citizens of Israel, Arab Minority Rights, Land Distribution and Planning Rights, Negev Bedouins and Unrecognized Villages

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