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BGU Thabet Abu Ras

 

 http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/topics/news/3660-aic-video-bedouin-prawer-report

AIC Video: Bedouin Prawer Report 

Tuesday, 14 June 2011 10:55 Alternative Information Center (AIC)

 

In early June, the Israeli government unveiled a proposal to deal with so-called "Bedouin settlement" issues in the Naqab (Negev) desert.


Called the Prawer Report, the government aims to forcibly displace up to 45,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel and move them from "unrecognized" villages into government-planned townships. The AIC spoke with Thabet Abu Ras, the Director of Adalah's Naqab Project, about why the Prawer Report cannot be implemented and what message it sends to Bedouin citizens of Israel.

 

 

 http://ac-ap.org/english/files/Dr_Thabet2.pdf

Policy of Arab House Demolitions and the Possibility to
Prevent
Dr. Thabet Abu Ras
Abstract
In my lecture, I will briefly discuss the reasons for “illegal” house building in Arab
townships in Israel by discussing the example of three cities in the Southern Triangle: 
Teiba, Teira, and Qalansawa.
I would like to warn the general audience that the State institutions use the term
“illegal house building.”  Instead of this term, I will use the term “building without
permission” for this discussion.  
The Israeli authorities use double standards when dealing with this phenomenon,
which is increasing in Israel.  The Israeli authorities consider “building without
permission” in the Arab sector as a security threat to planning and the environment
and often deal with this phenomenon using force if necessary.  On the other hand, the
Israeli authorities consider “building without permission” in the  Jewish sector as a
civil issue; thus is seen as legitimate among part of the Israeli institutions, and as a
means of strengthening and building the Jewish State, as in the individual farm in the
Negev, or construction in the Kibbutzim and Moshavim.  
By contrast, when examining the reasons for “building without permission” in Teiba,
Tierra, and Qalansawa, it is clear that they are due to reasons related to the State
planning authority’s policies towards Arab towns.  This policy includes master plans
that were delayed by the authorities which did not provide the building license; the
lack of industrial zones in Arab townships; real problems with housing, discrimination
by the State against local Arab municipalities resulting in the municipality being
unable to provide basic services to the citizens.  
Despite all these problems, the phenomenon of “building without permission” is
relatively small and consists of a few hundred buildings.  Part of these buildings were
constructed before the year 1965, and even today they have yet to receive legal
permission.  Other buildings were constructed in existing housing areas.  In other
cases, some “buildings without permission” include cases in which new construction
was added to an already existing building (for example, a new room was constructed onto an already built house).  These also include agricultural buildings, stores or small
businesses.   
Dr. Thabet Abu Ras presented several ways to limit the problem of “building without
permission:”
• Approved Master Plans that take into consideration the true needs of  the
citizens
• Allocating State lands to towns that have a problem with a lack of land
• Construction of public housing buildings
• Preventing private deals between the authorities and some of the citizens  that
hinder the well being of the general population 
• Separating the planning committees from the local municipalities 
• Reform within the planning committees
In addition, the researcher suggests changes in the building and planning laws which
discriminate against the Arab citizens in Israel.  He also  suggests the prevention of
house demolitions as long as there is no suitable alternative, since the right of an
individual to live in his/her house is a human right that is respected by national and
global laws.  
With such changes, there is a need for increased awareness among  the public
regarding the issue of house demolitions. It is necessary that  public organizations
advise the citizens to deal with the policy of house demolitions and provide consulting
regarding building in Arab townships.  

======================================================================

http://www.adalah.org/upfiles/2011/Thabet_English_2.pdf

Adalah’s Newsletter, Vol. 81, April 2011
1
The Arab Bedouin in the Unrecognized Villages in the Naqab (Negev):
Between the Hammer of Prawer and the Anvil of Goldberg
Dr. Thabet Abu Ras
Project Director, Adalah in the Naqab
Introduction
On the eve of the Knesset State Control Committee‟s meeting  of 28 March 2011 to
discuss the report of the Prawer Committee, the government body established in 2009
to implement the Goldberg Committee Report, the final draft was leaked. The Prawer
Report was entitled “Draft 12  – Implementation Team of the Goldberg Report for
Regulating Bedouin Settlement in the Negev: A Proposed Outline for Regulating
Bedouin Settlement in the Negev.” At the meeting, in which the director-general of
the Ministry of Interior participated, the chairman of the State Control Committee,
MK Yoel Hasson, accused  members of the  Prawer Committee of  a  lack of
transparency, of concealing information, and of dragging their feet. He also criticized
them for failing “to provide clear answers,” to such question as when the committee
would conclude its discussions and submit its recommendations and final report.
The Prawer team chaired by Ehud Prawer, the  Director  of Planning Policy in the
Office of the Prime Minister, included: Shamai Asif, architect and formerly the head
of planning administration at the Ministry of Interior; Mr. Yaron Bibi, the director of
the Israel Land Administration; Mr. Yehuda Bachar, the head of the Authority for
Resolving Bedouin Settlement in the Negev; Mr. Sharon Gambasho, the deputy
director of budgets at the Ministry of Finance; attorney Sarit Dana, the deputy
Attorney General at the Ministry of Justice; Avi Heller, the director of the Southern
District of the Ministry of Justice; and Superintendent Shalom Ben Salmon, advisor
on Arab affairs for the Southern District of the Israeli Police.
This document will analyze the events and discussions that preceded the writing of
the Prawer Report and assess both the nature its recommendations and the possibility
of implementation.
Israeli government policy towards the Bedouin in the Naqab, 1948-1980
The policy adopted by the Government of Israel toward the Bedouin in the Naqab
during the first three decades of the state‟s existence focused on three issues. The first
was the desire to concentrate the Bedouin in a restricted area (the “Siyag”). This area,
mostly barren, south and east of Beer el-Sabe (Be‟er Sheva), constituted just 1.5
million dunams of the total area of the Naqab (around 13 million dunams).
1
The
transfer of the Bedouin to this area was completed in 1954, the same year that the
Bedouin were granted Israeli citizenship. This complex action was implemented
without major difficulties due to the strict military regime that was imposed on the
entire Arab minority in Israel until 1966.
The government‟s second action  with regard to the Bedouin was the decision to
urbanize them. This decision, made in 1962, stipulated that three Bedouin towns
                                              
1
Under Ottoman rule and throughout the British Mandate period, the Bedouin enjoyed the use of
nearly all (12.6 million dunums) of the Naqab (Rangwala, 2004: 419).Adalah’s Newsletter, Vol. 81, April 2011
2
would be established in the Naqab: Tel el-Sabe (Tel Sheva), Rahat and Kseife.
Further decision expanded urbanization to four additional areas. Today, more than
half of the Bedouin live in areas classified as “urban”. The objective of this
urbanization was to secure the government‟s control of land held by the Bedouin, to
provide them with government and municipal services and infrastructure, and to
prevent them from spreading over wide swathes of land.
The third element of government policy towards the Bedouin was the move to resolve
the issue of Bedouin land ownership in the Naqab. An initial government compromise
on this issue was based on recommendations published in 1976 by a committee
chaired by Pliya Albeck from the Ministry of Justice. The Albeck committee
determined that the lands of the Naqab were  Mawat (“dead” lands, unsuitable for
cultivation), but approved partial compensation of 20% of the land for persons who
claimed over 400 dunams. In parallel to this compromise proposal, the government‟s
policy toward the Bedouin grew harsher, as reflected in the enforcement of
construction and grazing laws, and in the establishment  of the Green Patrol (1977),
which was assigned to enforce the law without compromise (Swirsky, 2005).
A major shift in government policy towards the Bedouin occurred in 1998, with the
establishment of the Ministerial Committee to Advance the Bedouin in the Negev and
the Administration for Advancing the Bedouin in the Negev, which served as an
instrument for implementing government policy. For the first time, the state
recognized the need to hold an orderly discussion of the status of the Bedouin
population in the Naqab and expressed a desire to grant recognition to additional
villages, besides the seven towns that had already been established.
The core of the land issue in the Naqab lies in the need to regulate the lands in the
northern Naqab, a process  that commenced in 1971. The state recognizes the
existence of the Bedouin‟ claims, but according to government policy (which has also
been adopted by the courts), Bedouin are not land-owners. At most, they have the
right of “guardianship” that the government grants them as a gesture of good will. In
the entire Naqab area, the Bedouin, who today comprise 30% of the population in the
Naqab, live on about 260,000 dunams of land, or about 2% of the overall territory. Of
this area, the unrecognized villages account for about 180,000 dunams, or 1.4% of the
total territory. The total land area claimed in 3,200 claims made by the Bedouin who
remained in the Naqab is estimated at 5.4% of the total territory in the Naqab, or
775,863 dunams (El Hozayel, 2003).
Since  it began regulating the lands, the state has managed to reach an arrangement
with Bedouin residents on only 205,675 dunams (about 18% of the claimed land)
regarding 380 claims (about 12% of the total number of claims). Around 150,000
dunams in the compromise arrangements lie within the master plan of the Abu Basma
villages (Goldberg, 2008). About 50,000 dunams were transferred from the Bedouin
to the State of Israel in rulings from  counter-claims by the government. As of July
2008, some 592,000 dunams on 2,749 claims were yet to be resolved. It is important
to remember that the Bedouin had already submitted land claims during the first years
of the state based documentation that proved that they paid taxes on this land prior to
the establishment of the state. However, the Israeli government refused to accept these
documents, arguing that there had been no land regulation in the Naqab and Adalah’s Newsletter, Vol. 81, April 2011
3
consequently that the Bedouin did not have official ownership of the land (Porat,
2000: 457).
The Goldberg Committee and its recommendations
On 28 October 2007, the government commissioned the Minister of Construction and
Housing, Zeev Boim, to appoint a committee to “recommend to the government a
policy for regulating Bedouin settlement in the Negev, including legislative proposals
and amendments.” The committee was given a broad mandate and extensive
authority. On 23 December 2007, the Minister of Construction and Housing appointed
a committee of eight members, chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Eliezer
Goldberg. The committee members included two Bedouin representatives who reside
in government-planned towns in the south. In January 2008, representatives of the
public were summoned to appear before the committee. Over the course of five
months, the committee convened over 25 sessions and heard more than 120 witnesses:
public figures, representatives of organizations, researchers, academics, and
representatives of the government. On 11 December 2008, the committee submitted a
report to the Minister of Construction and Housing.
Already at the beginning of its recommendations, the committee determined that,
“there is no justification for the state to treat the Bedouin residents in these
communities differently from the way it treats the rest of the citizens of the state”
(Goldberg, 2008: 1). The committee recommended that recognition be granted to most
of the unrecognized villages and that the illegal structures that exist “within the area
of a current master plan, which do not hinder the implementation of the plan,” should
be recognized as “gray” – a definition that would pave the way for their recognition.
The report stipulates the level of compensation that would be required, including
compensation with land. Unlike the Albeck recommendations, this land compensation
scheme required no minimum number of dunams and would calculate compensation
from the first dunam in the ownership claim. In addition, arrangements were made for
allocating alternative land and timetables were set out for implementing the
committee‟s recommendations.
The committee recommended establishing a new planning body attached to the
Southern District Committee for Planning and Building in Beer el-Sabe, to be called
the Committee for Regulating Bedouin Settlement in the Negev. The Goldberg
Committee also recommended “not turning a blind eye to the enforcement of the
law”, and determined that its recommendations constituted a fair compromise
between the state and the Bedouin. The report was written in conciliatory and positive
language and, unlike committees that addressed Bedouin affairs in the past, proposed
granting the Bedouin “the right of ownership” to land, in consideration of their
“historic connection” to it. However, the many reservations expressed by members of
the committee acted to diminish the power and status of the report.
The Regional Council of the Unrecognized Villages in the Naqab (RCUV) welcomed
the new tone of the report and announced that if the committee‟s recommendations
were approved, particularly with regard to the issue of recognition for the
unrecognized villages, they could form the basis for a shift in government policy
(Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages, 2008). However, the RCUV also
stated that committee had failed to propose a just solution for the Bedouin population
because it “[did] not respond to even a small part of the needs of the members of the Adalah’s Newsletter, Vol. 81, April 2011
4
community”, or offer a solution to the lack of services for residents, such as the
provision of electricity and water infrastructure, garbage collection and medical
services. The RCUV argued that the committee had not provided a definite timetable
for implementing the plan and had used mechanisms and methods that had failed in
the past. It also stated that, “The report was disappointing and did not create a
practical solution for resolving the conflict.” While the Goldberg Committee adopted
the principle of recognizing the villages as a means of resolving the conflict  – a step
of historic importance – it nonetheless “did not recognize the historic injustice done to
the Bedouin” (RCUV, 2008).
The report‟s recommendations have yet to be implemented, a fact that Justice
Goldberg has criticized. “A year and a half has passed since the publication of the
Goldberg Committee‟s Report, and despite its official approval by the Government of
Israel, not a single step has been taken to implement its conclusions… the problems of
the Bedouin require governance and a budget. Apparently, both of these components
are still lacking” (Moher, 2010).
2
The Duchin Report
The District Master Plan (TAMAM) 4/14/23 is a statutory measure that encompassed
several other plans for the development of the Beer el-Sabe metropolitan area and
resolutions for the issue of the unrecognized Arab Bedouin villages. The plan was
submitted to the National Council for Planning and Building (NCPB) in November
2006. The NCPB authorized the Committee for Planning Fundamental Issues, a
specialized body within the NCPB, to discuss objections submitted against the plan.
Attorney and planner Talma Duchin was appointed by the Ministry of Interior to
address objections to Plan 4/14/23. Duchin noted in her 2010 report that 37 objections
had been submitted (including an objection by Adalah) regarding the recognition of
52 separate villages. The number of residents in the villages proposed for recognition
ranged from 500 to 5,000 (Duchin, 2010).
Duchin‟s recommendations, which were first submitted prior to the Goldberg Report
in December 2008, were updated in June 2010 to reflect the conclusions of the
Goldberg Committee.  The Duchin report further accepted the recommendations of
the investigator for objections to the District Master Plan 4/14/23 for the Beer el-Sabe
metropolitan area. Duchin recommended that 14 new communities should be
recognized. The recommendations are outlined in the following table:
No. Villages recommended for recognition Demolition and transfer of the entire village’s population to a
new area
Demolition and
transfer of part of the village and its population
Demolition of
the village and
transfer of its
population to the
recognized
Bedouin towns
1  Al-Homra Al-Sura Bat al-Sari‟a Al-Mas‟adiya
                                              
2
In parallel to establishing the Goldberg Committee, the government also decided to establish an
executive authority for the regulation of Bedouin settlement in the Naqab. The authority is supposed to
act as a public corporation and regulate Bedouin settlement within five years, based on the Goldberg
recommendations. A former Police Brigadier General, Yehuda Bachar, was appointed to head the
authority. Adalah’s Newsletter, Vol. 81, April 2011
5
2  Bir al-Hamam Al-Mazr‟a Umm Ratam Al-Mkaimin
3  Bir al-Mashash Katamat Al-Bat „Awejan
4  Zarnuk Ghaza Tel al-Meleh Tweil Abu Jarwal
5  Za‟arura Al-Madbah Khirbet al-Watan Abu Sulab
6  Rakhma** Wadi al-Mashash Hashm Zana Al-Bhira
7  Umm Itnan Wadi al-Na‟am Al-Grin
8  Dhayya Al-Ser Al-Awakbi
9  Umm al-Mila Sa‟wa Al-Araqib /
Karkur
10  Khirbet Zbaleh Wadi Gwin
11  A-Sdir Tala‟ Rashid
12  Al Gara Katamat Mazrah
13  Atir / Umm alHieran*
Sawaween
14  Tel Arad*
* The Prime Minister‟s Office intervened in order to prevent recognition of these villages. 
** Annexation to the Jewish town of Yeruham as a neighborhood within this town.
The Prawer Report
The beginning of the Prawer Committee Report articulates the Committee‟s mandate
as the government-appointed team to “implement the Goldberg Committee Report,
and... to resolve the report‟s key points with the reservations to the report submitted
by members of the [Goldberg] committee” (Prawer Report, 2011: 3). The Report
emphasizes that, “the implementation team followed the government‟s directive
stipulating that the outline proposed in the Goldberg Report would comprise a basis
for its work, while examining the reservations submitted by members of the Goldberg
Committee vis-à-vis the report and deciding between them” (Prawer, 2011: 4).
The language and spirit of the draft report that was leaked to the media leaves no
doubt that Ehud Prawer  – who previously declared at the Herzliya Conference in
2006, as Deputy Director of the National Security Council (a body composed of
retired high-ranking army officers) that, “The state has already demonstrated, in the
Disengagement Plan, an ability to cope with  challenges that are complex from
organizational, budgetary and legal perspectives. A similar principle should be
adopted towards the Bedouin issue…” – intends to implement the report‟s
recommendations unilaterally using all means, including force if necessary (Prawer
and Serphos, 2006).
An in-depth reading of the Prawer Committee‟s Report shows that it is not a report
based on implementation of previous recommendations, and indeed its connection to
Goldberg is very weak. It is a new report that does not take account of Government
Decision No. 4411 of 18 January 2009, which stated that, “The government regards
the outline proposed by the Goldberg Committee as a basis for regulating Bedouin
settlement in the Negev.” The Prawer Report also fails to fulfill the decision to
“formulate policy that will take into account the needs of the Bedouin population, its
demands for land rights, the needs of the state and its land and monetary resources”
(Prawer, 2011: 3). The report proposes a principle of 50% compensation for the land
under the direct control of the Bedouin claimant, while offering financial Adalah’s Newsletter, Vol. 81, April 2011
6
compensation and the option of buying residential plots in one of the governmentplanned Bedouin towns for claims on land that is not under their direct control. While
the percentage of land offered to the Bedouin was higher than that proposed by
Attorney Pliya Albeck in 1971, it is still far from the demands made by the Bedouin.
According to these percentages, the Bedouin would receive a total of just 180,000-
200,000 dunams, compared to their remaining claims of approximately 600,000
dunams.
Another fundamental difference between the Goldberg and Prawer reports is that the
former constituted a moral statement, recognizing an historic connection between the
Bedouin and their lands, and the fact that they are “not squatters” but citizens entitled
to equal rights in the state. In addition, the Goldberg Report established a principle of
recognizing unrecognized villages “to the extent possible,” while the newer report,
which does not cite the name of even a single unrecognized village, is vague and talks
about “establishing new communities” rather than recognizing existing villages.
At the planning level, the Prawer Report did not include the Arab Bedouin in
determining its own fate and did not grant hearing to members of the Arab Bedouin
population. It proposes a forced planning outline despite its promise to “present a
proposed policy to the Bedouin public prior to submitting the proposed legislation to
the Knesset” (Prawer, 2011: 3).
In addition, the Prawer  Report  does not take into consideration the actual land and
planning situation in the Naqab. It discriminates between those Bedouin who are
living on their land and those who were uprooted by the first Government of  Israel
and expelled to the Siyag region following the establishment of the state. Unlike the
people living on their land, those who claim land in the western Naqab are being
asked to surrender their land and suffice with monetary compensation. The
recommendations also discriminate between Jewish and Arab citizens living in
proximity of each other by specifying planning principles of “size, density, contiguity,
and capacity,” that are not applied in small Jewish localities. In addition, the report
rejects the principle of freezing the demolition of homes and legalizing Arab Bedouin
homes, and instead prepares public opinion for mass demolitions. At the same time, it
legalizes single-family farms for Jews in the Negev.
The planning measures and proposed process of implementation (which involves
unrealistic timelines, codifying the recommendations into law, etc.) are a source of
deep concern among the Bedouin. The document proposes restrictive planning rather
than expansive planning that takes full account of  the future of the Bedouin
communities. The proposed solution states that “the allocation of land for housing
will be conducted in accordance with the current needs of the existing population.”
However, that is conditional and would be undertaken within an accelerated planning
process that is to be implemented “only after the ownership claims and other
arrangements are resolved in order to enable the actual establishment of the
community” (Prawer, 2011: 24). Furthermore, the implementation team plans to
disregard the district master plan if necessary: “It is emphasized that the master plan is
not the culmination of the decision-making process regarding the permanent
settlement of Bedouin. Rather, it is an enabling framework. The rules of planning and
considerations, together with the needs arising in the field, must be worked out for
each overall plan of settlement” (18).Adalah’s Newsletter, Vol. 81, April 2011
7
The language of the Prawer Report provides broad discretion to the Prime Minister
and the Prime Minister‟s Office. The personal involvement of the Prime Minister,
who can, at his discretion, exclude entire regions of  state land from residential
development, is new and disconcerting, though accurately reflects the Prime
Minister‟s policy of arbitrary intervention.  In November 2010, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu intervened to prevent the recognition of two communities  –
Atir-Umm al-Hieran and Tel Arad – which had been recommended for recognition by
the Committee for Planning Fundamental Issues (Adalah, 2010). Additionally, the
Prime Minister‟s Office is charged with forming an executive team to implement the
Report‟s recommendations, which further indicates the broad discretion of the Israeli
government and the persistent vulnerability of the Arab Bedouins.
Summary
In recent years, we have witnessed extensive activity in the Naqab within the
framework of the National Plan for Developing the Negev 2005-2015, which
primarily benefits the Jewish residents of the area. At the same time, the policy
proposed in this plan includes an attempt to resolve the issue of Arab Bedouin land in
the Naqab and recognition of their villages. However, the policy of the Government
of Israel, according to the Prawer Report, remains the expulsion of the Bedouin from
their lands, concentrating them in officially recognized towns, and recognizing only
some of their villages, while excluding the Arab Bedouin from determining their own
future. While a positive tone emanated from the Goldberg Report, the Prawer Report
has taken the wind out of its sails.
The Prawer Report, which annuls Bedouin claims to land over which they do not have
direct control, and offers compensation for only 50% of the land they currently do
control and upon which they have settled, is  unfeasible.  This was clear from the
arguments made by members of the Prawer committee themselves during a session of
the Knesset State Control Committee, which revealed internal disagreements on the
possibility of implementing their recommendations, and seems to offer explanation
for the tardiness (two years) and the  numerous drafts of the report, of which  there
have been twelve to date. Although there is an increased level of compensation for
Bedouin who claim land as compared to the Goldberg recommendations, there is also
backtracking from the  principle adopted by the  Goldberg Committee of recognizing
most of the unrecognized villages. The Prawer Report is written in vague language
that leaves broad discretion to the implementation team and to the Prime Minister‟s
Office.
The involvement of the Prime Minister‟s Office in this matter and the fact that the
recommendations are to be codified into law indicate that this issue is urgent from the
state‟s perspective and suggests that it will be imposed by force.
Bibliography
Adalah (2010), “As Requested by the Prime Minister‟s Office: The National Council
for Planning and Building, in an Exceptional Move, Cancels its Decision to Adalah’s Newsletter, Vol. 81, April 2011
8
Recognize Two Arab Bedouin Villages in the Naqab (Negev)”, available online at:
http://www.old-adalah.org/eng/pressreleases/pr.php?file=22_11_10
Duchin, T. (2010), The Bedouin Population Outside of the Recognized Communities:
Recommendations of a Researcher for Objections to TAMAM 23/14/4  – The Partial
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Council for Planning and Building‟s Subcommittee for Objections. Jerusalem:
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El Hozayel, A. (2002), “The Unrecognized Villages in the Negev: Between
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the Bedouin in the Negev. Tel Aviv: The Adva Center.

 

 

 

 

 

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