Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet on Sunday approved a plan to relocate tens of thousands of Bedouin from their unrecognized villages into settlements with official state status.
The plan emerges from the Prawer Report, drafted to find a solution to the problem of unrecognized villages in the Negev.
As part of the plan, some 20,000 to 30,000 Bedouon will be relocated to recognized settlements including Rahat, Khura and Ksayfe. The plan also includes financial compensation for those relocated, as well as alternate plots of land. The program is estimated to cost the state NIS 6.8 billion.
Opponents of the plan have accusing the government of evacuating people from their homes for no justified reason and against their will.
Bedouin representative called the decision “a declaration of war,” and some 150 members of the community gathered outside the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem on Sunday to protest the decision.
“This stupid government will be responsible for a Bedouin Intifada in the Negev,” said Arab MK Taleb al-Sana, who took part in the protest.
Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, slammed the government’s approval of the plan as a major violation of basic rights, pointing out that it would result in the uprooting of tens of thousands of people and the demolition of many Bedouin villages.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel in June submitted its objections to the Prawer Report and argued that the conditions it sets for recognizing Bedouin villages are prejudicial.
These include meeting minimal levels of population density, contiguity and economic sustainability. The criteria established, the organization maintains, flout principles of equality and justice in the distribution of resources. “If the same criteria were applied to the Jewish population, whole settlements – including community settlements, observatories, kibbutzim and moshavim – would be doomed,” the association notes.
Moreover, according to its claims, Bedouin villages are planned without considering the needs of the population, which is largely agrarian and rural, not urban. The association also opposes making any planning for the Bedouin conditional on settling disputes over land ownership.