On 3 November, the Israeli Cabinet approved the decision to establish a `non-tribal` Bedouin city in the Naqab/Negev, inside the Green Line, and to ‘recognize’ the till-now ‘unrecognized’ Palestinian Arab villages of Khašim Zannih, ʿAbdih and Rakhamah. That decision was in fulfillment of the Coalition Agreement, signed on 11 June, wich included a version of that resolution. The Agreement was signed by Mansour Abbas, head of the United Arab List and representative of that party in the Knesset, and by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid, and by Prime Minister Naftali Bennet.
While seemingly a good decision that would slightly relieve the dire need for housing in the Bedouin communities and guarantee some basic infrastructure to thousands of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, it carries severe challenges and risks: First, the plan requires at least 70% of residents of the villages sign a consent form, agreeing to concentrate within the borders of the village in the first seven years. This condition would mean losing their homes in case they don`t fit in the yet-to-be-approved masterplan, as has happened before. This creates a catch-22 by which this condition must be fulfilled before the finalization of the recognition process. It is hardly feasible to require a transition of residents into village boundaries that still have not yet been recognized, planned and serviced.
The Negev Coexistence Forum together with Bimkom, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Sikkuy and Adalah have sent a letter to the Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Services, requesting to revert and modify clauses 5, 6 and 7, and reformulate the decision so that it include a two-way dialogue and the participation of the Bedouin residents in the decision making of a plan.
Note: Since the Israeli military’s ethnic cleansing of the Naqab and destruction of 108 villages and village points throughout 1951–53 and enclosing the indigenous Palestinian population into the ‘siyaj,’ Israeli planning authorities have long implemented the formation of ‘rekuzim’ (‘concentrations,’ in Hebrew). Several Israeli government initiatives have sought to achieve similar objectives through ‘development’ plans and relocation schemes, each one involving the Palestinian inhabitants relinquishment of more of their customary land holdings.
See The Goldberg Opportunity: A Chance for Human Rights-based Statecraft in Israel. The International Fact-finding Missionand “The Goldberg Opportunity” Revisited”
In addition, to complete this pincer maneuver, the Jewish National Fund’s ‘environmental’ projects, supported by the Israeli army, have sought to afforest areas of the Naqab as a means to deny Palestinian citizens access to, and use of their lands. According to Israeli planning regulations, the planting of a coniferous tree on a plot of land renders that land a ‘forest reserve,’ upon which it is legally protected from building or agricultural use.
Israel’s JNF Secret Ops to Get Palestinian Land
Israel/Palestine: JNF and Elad Links Documented
Palestine/Israel: JNF Trees Dispossess Bedouin
Israel/Palestine: Protesting Naqab Land Grab
Palestinian Bedouin Resist Erasure in Naqab
Image on front page: Logos of the CSOs authoring the petition letter to the Israeli Welfare Ministry concerning the plight of the newly ‘recognized’ Palestinian Bedouin villages. Source: the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality. Map on this page: Locations of the Israeli-destroyed and depopulated indigenous Naqab villages and village points outside and inside the ‘siyaj’ into which the surviving Palestinian population has been concentrated since 1953. Source: Salman Abu Sitta, in annex to The Goldberg Opportunity: A Chance for Human Rights-based Statecraft in Israel. The International Fact-finding Mission.