Israel’s District Planning and Building Committee considered a plan on Sunday submitted by the Bedouin Settlement Authority in the Negev which aims to build camps as preparation for the displacement of 36,000 Arab citizens, Arab48.com has reported. The plan targets Palestinian-Arab residents within Israel who live in Bedouin villages “unrecognised” by the Israeli occupation government.
Such villages have often been in place for hundreds of years before the creation of the Israeli occupation state. Nevertheless, it is insisting on displacing their residents and replacing the villages with housing projects for Jewish Israeli settlers.
A letter has been sent to the head of the District Planning and Building Committee asking them not to accept the plan. It was sent on behalf of Adalah Centre, an Israeli rights group seeking justice for Arab residents, along with the Regional Council for the Unrecognised Villages in the Negev, the Peaceful Coexistence Club and Shatil Association.
Submitted by lawyer Suha Bsharah from Adalah, the letter stressed the importance of rejecting the plan, which is simply a tool to displace Arabs from their homes and villages within Israel. It also reiterated that such an action amounts to a “flagrant violation of the basic rights of the Arab citizens on top of which is the right to respect, dignity and equality.”
The letter noted that this plan reinforces the suffering inflicted on the Arab residents of the unrecognised villages as Israel is planning to displace them under the pretext of carrying out government projects. “It is unreasonable that the authorities displace tens of thousands of residents from their homes and lands,” wrote the signatories. “[The plan] will destroy a complete generation of Arab children, women and youths.”
According to Bsharah, “The Israeli authorities are seriously looking for a legal cover for the displacement of Arabs by getting the approval of the District Planning and Building Committee. They are not looking for a just and appropriate solution that would maintain the right to live with respect, dignity and safety for the Arabs who have been living here for decades, if not hundreds of years.”
The head of the Council of the Unrecognised Villages, Atiyyeh Al-Asam said: “The Council rejects this plan because its implicit and explicit goal is to forcibly displace the residents of the unrecognised villages. We believe that this plan is materialising the spirit of the [withdrawn] Prawer Plan which was based on displacing tens of thousands of Arabs.”