According to the latest position paper published by the Negev Coexistence Forum, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics has continuously avoided holding a comprehensive census of the entire Arab Bedouin population of the Naqab, providing inaccurate data regarding their civil, social and economic states to authorities. This prevents them for accecisng civil rights including the equal right to vote. Furthermore, according to Israel’s State Comptroller’s Report released this past Wednesday, Israeli state authorities are even unaware of the exact size of the Bedouin population in the Southern Naqab.
The unrecognized villages of the Naqab are home to 90-100,000 residents, invisible to authorities. The villages are not documented in official registries although some pre-dating the state, and their residents are identified officially the Population Registry not as residents of a town or village (as other Israeli citizens) but rather residents of a “tribe”.
Although 72.9% of Arab Naqab residents live below the poverty line and 79.6% of children from this community are considered poor, residents of the unrecognized villages are not taken into account in the national reports on poverty and exact date regarding their status does not lead to intervention plans. The result of scarce verified and segmented information is so that every governmental body can function according to their own estimations or even opinions regarding the size of the Bedouin population. This can lead to beuraucratic chaos and ineligible management based on inaccurate and nonvalid data.
This situation reflects how decision makers receive an innacurate image that includes, on one hand, “inflated” Arab settlements with inaccurate residence numbers as a result of false registration of un-recognized villages residents inside of the recognized villages or townships. In other cases, authorities will receive inadequate demographic data.
The lack of data also leads to prevention of their right to vote, as residents are registered elsewhere from their residence. Government budgets allocated to local registries per resident mean that the residents of the unrecognized villages are always under budgeted.
Lack of acknowledgement of the mere residency of a citizen can lead to the inability to exercise basic rights, as well as physical and psychological detachment. Israel’s choice to define Arab Naqab residents as “tribal” is in and of itself a racist choice that attempts to categorize the Arab Bedouins as unable to develop while simultaneously denying them civil equality.
The Central Bureau of Statistics must take immediate action and initiate a comprehensive census of the Arab Bedouin population of the Naqab including the unrecognized villages so that they may present decision makers with accurate and in-depth information that will allow them to promote viable solutions in the form of planning, resource distribution and allocation, and the proper response to the dire need of basic infrastructure and services.
For further information and interviewees, please contact Odeliya Matter, field and media coordinator at Negev Coexistence Forum:
+972 050 939 1299 email@example.com