Monday, April 22, 2013

Israeli govt to decide on plan to evict up to 40,000 Negev Bedouin from their homes

The Israel Government will soon vote on whether to proceed with a plan (the Prawer Plan) that could result in the forcible eviction of 30,000 - 40,000 Negev Bedouin from their homes and the demolition of their villages, a gross violation of the civil and human rights of Israel's Bedouin citizens.    If the Netanyahu government decides to move forward with this plan, they will submit a bill to the Knesset to enact it into law.   Our friends at ACRI (the Association for Civil Rights in Israel) provided this update.  

Negev Bedouin Land Ownership

Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs |
Sunday, 21.04.2013  | Deciding the government’s position.

ACRI’s position: ACRI, together with Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, have been dealing for many years with the issue of Bedouin rights in the Negev in all fields of life. The proposed bill below primarily deals with the issue of Bedouin land ownership in the Negev.

The bill suggests an arrangement whereby the registration of land claims takes place within a specified time; recognition will be given for only a percentage of the claims and financial compensation will be provided for land recognized by the arrangement.

Our main reservations regarding this proposed law are:
  • The one sided nature of this arrangement is unacceptable to the Bedouin population who wish to participate in the planning process. This arrangement entails the dispossession of 90% of the Bedouin’s lands.
  • The law does not recognize the historical rights of the Bedouin over their land in the Negev, and completely ignores the fact that the Bedouins from have continuously settled most of the Bedouin villages since before 1948.
  • The law provides a mechanism for implementing the law in a manner leading to the destruction of entire villages and the eviction of between 30,000 and 40,000 people from their homes.
  • The proposed arrangement is unequal and discriminatory since it deals with arrangement of Bedouin property rights only. It replaces arbitration and negotiation with a legal settlement that will apply to an entire population.
  • The proposed arrangement is filled with harmful and problematic sanctions which may harm the fundamental individual rights of those subject to the law. Among other things, the arrangements states that those who do not subscribe to the agreement within a limited timeframe prescribed by the law will see their claims and compensation gradually diminish until they have completely lost all of their proprietary rights. The law prescribes a period of five years, after which the land will be registered in the name of the state.
According to our position, an equitable and just solution requires firstly recognizing that the residents of the unrecognized villages are citizens with equal rights. The government must recognize the 35 currently unrecognized villages, and institute a fair mechanism for investigating and determining land ownership claims, in which the historical affiliations of the Bedouin citizens to their land are considered.

Related Material
  • Press Release: NGOs warn - Government plan will displace thousands of Bedouin
  • ACRI’s position paper on the principles for arranging recognition of Bedouin villages in the Negev. 
  • Interactive page on the difference between illegal outposts, Area C villages and unrecognized Bedouin villages.