PM office prevented the recognition of two Bedouin villages

A state committee was about to include two Palestinian-Bedouin villages in a new municipal plan, thus giving their residents official rights over their lands and homes after decades of dispute. A letter from an adviser to Netanyahu changed this decision

The problem of the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Israeli south received some media attention recently following the repeated destruction by the state of a village named Al-Arakiv.

There are more than 40 unrecognized Palestinian-Bedouin villages in Israel, many of them predating the state itself. Their residents are Israeli citizens, but they don’t receive basic services such as water and electricity, and occasionally, they are evicted from their homes and lands.

A government inquiry committee headed by Supreme Court Justice Eliezer Goldberg concluded a few years ago that the state should grant most of the villages official status, but its report, though officially adopted by the government, was never implemented.

Today, Haaretz is reporting (Hebrew) that the Prime Minister’s office took side in the procedures of a national planning committee, demanding that it wouldn’t recognize two such villages as part of a new municipal plan for the city of Beer-Sheva.

The sub-committee for principal planning issues in the National Council for Planning and Construction was about to include two villages – Tel Arad and Um Elhiran – in its new plan for the Beer-Sheva greater area. The new plan would have finally given the residents of the villages the opportunity to have an official claim for their lands, to receive basic services and most importantly, not to live under a constant threat of evacuation, as many Bedouin do.

However, two days ago the committee received a letter from the PM advisor for planning, Gabi Golan, demanding not to include the two Bedouin villages in the new plan. The letter repeated the old Israeli demand that the Bedouin leave their lands and their old way of life and move to the small towns Israel has constructed for them.

According to sources in the committee, cited by Haaretz, the Prime Minister’s demand was met, and the new plan, which was submitted yesterday, does not include the two villages.

More background on the problem of the unrecognized Bedouin villages can be found here.