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Position Paper of the Negev Coexistence Forum Regarding the Prawer Plan

23.03.2012

Position paper of the Negev Coexistence  Forum for Civil Equality (NCF) regarding the Recommendations of the Implementation Committee For Regulating Bedouin Settlement in the Negev , 2011(The Prawer Plan).

 

The Prawer Plan was presented as a memorandum law to the Israeli Government by the Justice Ministry on the 3rd of January 2012.  In the event that the law is passed by the Knesset it will lead to the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of people from their ancestral lands, the demolition of dozens of villages and the forced removal of an agricultural people to townships rife with poverty and unemployment.

Although the proposed law is entitled “The Law for Regulating Bedouin Settlement in the Negev” it does not contain a map, nor details of the villages to be regulated.  Instead, the law focuses on compensation in land and money for those who agree to accept the minimal offers specified in the proposal.  Those who do not accept or who fail to apply to the courts within 5 years of the law being passed by the Knesset, will have  lose their lands which will then be registered as state land.

Ehud Prawer, the architect of the plan, is the former Deputy Head of the National Security Council and subsequently serves a Head of the Policy Unit within the Prime Minister’s Office.  The law is supposedly intended to end the prolonged lands dispute between the Negev Bedouin and the State. Prawer, who was supposed to implement the recommendations of a previous committee, has chosen instead to write a new programme which in no way involved input from the Bedouin community or the general public. In order to correct this omission somewhat, Government Decision, Section 3: paragraphs a-d  determines that following publication of the Plan, there should be meetings with the Bedouin population in order to explain its details and to get their input (the so-called listening process) during a 45 day period which has since been extended to 75 days, until 18 March 2012.

We believe however that the law will lead to an irreversible situation in the Negev. Instead of civil equality and affirmative action after years of deprivation, the Government will introduce a system of enforcement and surveillance of the Bedouin that will only increase the inequality between Arabs and Jews in the Negev and will threaten the stability of the area and its residents.

 

NCF opposition to the proposed law ‘Regulating the Settlement of the Bedouin in the Negev’ derives from the fact that this is a discriminatory, non-egalitarian law which cannot be implemented in practice and will in no way regulate settlement in the Negev.  For these reasons NCF totally rejects the proposed law and urges the Government to table it without delay.  NCF calls on the Government to recognise all the hitherto unrecognized villages as part of the process of regulation and not to introduce a process that will lead to their eradication.

 

Herewith some of the problems arising from the proposed law:

  • The law is opaque and unclear. It is difficult to understand the intention of the lawmaker
  • Regarding the areas referred to and as to how the law will be implemented. Apparently the Government intend to develop only few new Bedouin settlements in the Negev if any. Additionally, the proposed law was only translated into Arabic after many requests, on 20th February 2012, adding to the difficulty of understanding its intent for members of the Bedouin community.
  • The proposed law does not relate to the unrecognized villages and their residents who have lived on these lands since time immemorial.
  • The main thrust of the law is to grant a uniform, ridiculously small sum in money and land compensation to Bedouin landowners, while creating impossible conditions for the realization of the compensation, for instance the requirement that all the heirs, the owners of a piece of land must come to the negotiating table in order to acquire the full value of compensation.  The original 3200 claimants to land rights today number 30.000.
  • The architects of the law provide a map of areas relating to land compensation but refuse to provide a map of the villages to be recognised or to alternative land that will be granted to claimants.

 

Discrimination by Regional Area

  • The proposed law does not enable land compensation west of Route 40 (the main traffic artery to and from Be’er-Sheva).
  • According to the proposal compensation will be given only to landowners actually living on their lands.  Thus people forcibly removed to the townships will lose their ownership rights, even though they were obeying government rulings to move.
  • The proposed law does not recognise the right to choose the nature of the settlement to which the individual must move. The only option is removal to the townships which, as is well known, have failed.
  • Those whose lands are situated at the Negev Heights (HarHaNegev) or in the Western Negev will not receive land compensation.

 

The proposed Law does not recognize the property  Laws and additional Laws:

  • The alternative land given as compensation is for agricultural use only and not the original land of the owner.
  • Despite calling itself The Law for Regulating Bedouin Settlement in the Negev the proposed law completely ignores the unrecognized villages and different types of settlement.
  • The proposed law calls for cancelling other existing laws, such as the inheritance law and others.

 

Implications of the Programme

  • Damages the Bedouin’s traditional agricultural way of life, imposing on them an urban existence.
  • Loss of the land which is the essence of Bedouin identity.
  • Forcibly uprooting 30.000-45.000 people from their homes
  • Destruction of entire villages
  • Massive expansion of government planned townships which are already failing.
  • Deepening the existing mistrust between the State authorities and the Negev Bedouin.

 

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Demolitions

16-10-19 - al-ʿArāgīb, a Bedouin village west of Route 40. The entire village was demolished for the 162 time.

26-09-19 - al-ʿArāgīb, a Bedouin village west of Route 40. The entire village was demolished for the 161 time.

All Demolitions