Israel approves plan to resettle thousands of Bedouins
On Sunday, Israel approved a plan that would settle tens of thousands of Bedouin in permanent villages in the Negev deserts, reports AFP.
“The goal of this historic decision is to put an end to the spread of illegal building by Negev Bedouin and lead to the better integration of the Bedouin into Israeli society,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted as saying in a released statement.
At the foundation of Bedouin life is their ability to quickly uproot and resettle their communities, thereby leading to the “illegal building” described in Netanyahu’s statement.
Currently, there are approximately 160,000 Bedouins living in Israel. Over half of them live in villages unrecognized by the state. Man of those who reside in recognized villages live in abject poverty.
The communities currently receive no government or municipal services, even though many members serve in the Israeli army.
Taleb Al-Sana, an Israeli MK who was a longtime member of the United Arab List but left to reform the Arab Democratic Party as an independent faction, recently told Israeli army radio that “the government is taking over Bedouin lands. We are totally opposed to this.”
Al-Sana is known as an outspoken critic of the Israeli government.
Haaretz reports that the plan “threatens to demolish 20,000 huts and move the approximately 100,000 people living in them to communities that have not yet been built for them” and expresses further concerns that the proposed communities will most likely not be large enough to accommodate the large population.