September 12, 2011
The Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages and Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights:
Recognition of the Bedouin villages in the Negev is Possible and Just
The organizations have prepared a master plan as an alternative to the government's plan and are presenting, for the first time, a feasible resolution for the status of the unrecognized villages in the Negev
Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights and the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages today unveiled a master plan for the unrecognized Bedouin settlements in the Negev. The master plan offers, for the first time, a feasible, comprehensive and professional alternative for the planning of Bedouin villages in the Negev. The plan, which was developed over a period of two years, contains six chapters and hundreds of pages, including background, analysis, expert reports and concrete proposals for sound planning solutions for the villages. The organizations believe that implementation of the plan will benefit the entire population of the Negev, Jewish and Arab alike.
The plan is being published just as the planning institutions are about to approve a new outline plan for the Beersheva metropolitan area, and the Israeli government is launching a new plan for the Bedouin villages (the Praver report). Both of these government plans seek to forcibly relocate villages in order to concentrate the Bedouin population in determined locations, a process which the vast majority of the Bedouin community opposes. The organizations argue that this process conflicts with basic principles of planning and with basic principles of justice. The master plan, however, offers development based on principles of equality and professional feasibility.
The plan is unique in several aspects: the plan presents the first in-depth database about the villages, compiled on the basis of surveys and expert studies; it is based on community participation and consultations carried out through a series of workshops and field tours; it offers a regional strategy of recognition and planning of the villages with their full integration in the Beersheva metropolitan area's transportation, employment and environmental infrastructures; it promotes the recognition of the Bedouin village as a distinct type of settlement that ought to be included in the Israeli planning system, just like the kibbutz, the moshav or the Arab village in the north; it presents a prototype of the Bedouin village, analyzes its spatial and social rationale and gives a typical outline for the development of the Bedouin village in the next 20 years, which focuses on residential, agricultural and open areas and road systems; it proposes ways to densify the constructed areas of the Bedouin villages while maintaining open areas, and planning that is considerate of the existence of small and isolated village clusters; and it offers an institutional and administrative structure for the rapid planning of the villages and resolution of their status acceptable to the Bedouin communities, that includes both the state planning institutions and the communities in shaping the villages' future.
The master plan for the unrecognized villages illustrates the real possibility to implement the recommendations of the 2009 Goldberg committee to "recognize the villages as much as possible."
Ibrahim al-Wakili, head of the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages, says:
"As the Goldberg committee already noted, the Bedouin are not trespassers and we deserve full civil rights in the places we live. Most of the villages are on our ancestral land from before Israel was established, and a small number of villages were relocated to their current site by the Israeli government in the 1950s. With people all over Israel fighting for their right to housing, we too demand our rights."
According to Prof. Oren Yiftachel, one of the plan's authors, the Bedouin have historic, planning and legal connections to the places they live. "The master plan is considerate of the Bedouin's rights, and builds a professional and equal planning outline based on these rights. The plan creates a framework for outline plans and detailed plans for the villages, allowing them to be connected to the basic services the Bedouin have been denied for 60 years and putting an end to their severe discrimination."
Urban planner Nili Baruch of Bimkom, one of the plan's authors, says: "The plan offers for the first time professional, long-term and comprehensive perspective for the Beersheva metropolitan area in the Negev. Only an agreed and equitable planning solution will allow the area to prosper for the good of all of its residents. The master plan shows that the planning needs of the Bedouin villages can be met and the development of the area for all its residents can start now."