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Israel to build 5 villages on Palestinian land

Six new residential areas will be set up in the Negev, five for Jews and one for Arabs, a sub-committee of the Israeli National Council for Planning and Building (NCPB) agreed yesterday.

Rights organisations said that this measure undermines a number of already existed Arab villages in the area, which the Israeli government does not recognise.

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Israeli Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar hailed the decisions saying: "It will reinforce settlement in Negev." The project is to be carried out at the expense of Arab villages whose residents are to be expelled.

NCPB is to convene in two weeks to approve the decision of its sub-committee. This measure precedes the stage of drawing maps outlining the structure and then implementing the project.

Rights organisations, including the Association of Civil Rights in Israel and Bimkom, appealed the decision of the sub-committee, which ignores Bedouin areas which have existed for decades.

Environment associations also protested against the plans and called existing Jewish settlements to be expanded instead of constructing new ones to reduce the environmental impact.

This decision comes at the time when the Israeli authorities have demolished the Palestinian village of Al-Araqeeb for the 71st times in an attempt to force its residents out. However, residents always rebuild their village insisting on their right to live on the land they inherited from their grandfathers.

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