The Regional Council for the Negev Unrecognised Villages. ALERT: 22/1/03
SHARON'S $1.75 BILLION LAND AND UNRECOGNISED VILLAGES ELIMINATION PLAN - UNTIL 2007
Sharon's Government will make the final approval next week for the new 1.75 billion dollar 5-Year Plan. This plan is a comprehensive strategy to remove the Bedouin of the Unrecognised Villages from their land and concentrate them into seven townships.
While this plan has been present for a long time - it has now been given a budget and a specific timeframe: the coming year 2003. The strategy includes a legal framework, with the hiring of lawyers to defend state claims of illegal land use or building, the expansion in strength of the armed police force that patrols the Negev and carries out house destructions, and the allocation of funds for any compensation which may be necessary. The plan's main points run as follows:
1. Establishing a special police station and paramilitary forces to implement the plan.
2. Empowering the Green Patrol (or Black Patrol) by allocating more funding and personnel for land confiscation. This paramilitary police unit is responsible for patrolling the Negev and carrying out house demolitions.
3. Final and complete registration of the land of the unrecognized villages as Governmental Land.
4. The Justice Ministry, Land Authority, and The Bedouin Authority (the Civil Administration of the government for the community) will work together in identifying land ownership by making claims that it is governmental property in all cases. The landowner then has to prove in court that the land is his or her land.
5. The plan provides for the government hiring legal experts and lawyers to defend itself against claims to the newly governmental land from its Bedouin inhabitants.
6. Any money or land compensation given will be subject to the Israeli Law, Governmental decisions, and the Land Authority.
7. The Jewish Regional Councils of Ramat Hovav and Bani Shimoun will give individuals of their choosing farms, on lands not within their municipal authorizations, which now belong to the unrecognized villages.
8. The Israeli Government will implement this plan retrospectively from 4/8/2002 which includes the Planning and Building Law passed at the end of last year. This law did not cover any unrecognized villages, therefore rendering every one of them illegal, even though these historical villages were established before the state of Israel, and before this Planning Law).
9. Local Municipalities will be established for the seven townships, and Bedouin addresses will be registered according to these new concentrations. There is a plan which suggests uprooting some recently recognised Bedouin villages and concentrating them into Meriet Township.
The importance of this plan cannot be overstated. Implementing the decisions that have been taken will mean mass house destruction and uprooting the 70,000 inhabitants without any housing alternatives. The government has decided to create the military police capacity to carry out these destructions, and backed up this capability with laws already passed in the Knesset and a legal team to defend the plan.
We see this Plan as a declaration of war on the Bedouin community of the unrecognized villages, even though the RCUV welcomes any village recognition. The Government has for the first time developed a comprehensive plan for settling the Unrecognized Villages "threat" with implementations and timetables, budget allocation, and job distribution to each ministry and governmental offices. This plan was never discussed with any of the population or their representatives, or the RCUV. The Bedouin people and their representatives do not support this plan.
The RCUV and the HRA urge the international community, all political parties, the High Follow Up Committee for Palestinians in Israel (the all-inclusive body for Palestinians citizens of Israel), and NGOs to work together and fight against the implementation of this Plan.
The RCUV and the HRA also urge parties to stand against the building of 14 Jewish settlements which is scheduled to begin on March 2003. The first settlement scheduled to be built is Givat Bar Settlement on Araqeeb Village, from where the citizens were initially uprooted for a "6-month period" in 1953. This settlement building is the complement to the plan to eliminate the Bedouin unrecognized villages: it will replace the indigenous inhabitants of the land with Jewish Israeli settlers.