The Higher Steering Committee for Arabs in the Negev (HSCAN) has warned of a "frantic" Israeli campaign to Judaise the Negev desert and displace its indigenous Bedouin population.
This came after the Israeli government voted on Sunday to establish a new Jewish community in the Negev, as well as to examine the possibility of the establishment of a new city in the south and five further communities – all Jewish – in a move that Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said would "advance Zionist values as well as play a key role in the security of the state."
The plan stipulates that the new Jewish community named Ir Ovot will be built south of the Hatzeva interchange on Route 90, while the other five communities will be established near Route 25 in the northern Negev which would ultimately include around 10,500 housing units; all designated for Jewish residents.
"Precisely at this time, in the face of all the security incidents, the Israeli government is establishing a contiguous urban bloc on the ground, putting a stake in the ground and beginning to build Jewish towns in the Negev," said Shaked, who backed the programme together with Housing Minister Ze'ev Elkin.
Responding to the Israeli government's plan, the HSCAN said in a statement that the Bennett-Shaked government is waging an unprecedented frenzied campaign to implement its settlement project to Judaise the Negev, explaining that the new cities will be constructed within the geographical space of the natural development of Arab communities, with the aim of besieging Arab villages and limiting the possibility of their future development.