A new report has revealed how 2,752 structures were demolished in Bedouin Palestinian communities in the Negev over the last three years, part of what human rights activists have described as an ongoing, concerted campaign of displacement by Israeli authorities.
‘Enforcing Distress: House Demolition Policy in the Bedouin Community in the Negev’, published by the Negev Coexistence Forum (NCF), sets out to reveal “the ways in which the [Israeli] state utilizes enforcement in order to displace citizens from their lands.” Read more
Condoleeza Rice’s recently published memoirs contains an interesting passage about Palestine/Israel. Rice relates a conversation she had with Tzipi Livni in March 2004, with the discussion particularly focused on Livni’s concerns regarding the Palestinian refugees’ right of return.
The Israeli politician’s central opposition to the refugees’ return — that it could “change the nature of the State of Israel, which had been founded as a state for the Jews” — is nothing new. But the former Secretary of State’s response is instructive.
I must admit that though I understood the argument intellectually, it struck me as a harsh defense of the ethnic purity of the Israeli state when Tzipi said it. It was one of those conversations that shocked my sensibilities as an American. After all, the very concept of ‘American’ rejects ethnic or religious definitions of citizenship. Moreover, there were Arab citizens of Israel. Where did they fit in? Read more
Recently the Israeli cabinet approved a major plan for the Negev that seeks to “relocate” an estimated 30,000 Bedouin Palestinian citizens to government-approved townships.
The details that have emerged about the government’s ‘solution’ for Bedouin Palestinians show a continuation of the colonial logic that has shaped Israeli policy in the Negev since 1948. Reports suggest that the state will reject half of the Bedouins’ land claims. For the tens of thousands of Bedouin Palestinians in ‘unrecognised villages’, there is now uncertainty about exactly which communities will be ‘legalised’ – and which will be demolished, their residents forcibly transferred. Read more
Shortly after I had arrived in Palestine last month, I visited the devastated community in the Jordan Valley where the Israeli army had, just days earlier, demolished around 70 “illegal” structures. The same week, I visited Dahmash, an “unrecognised” village between Ramla and Lod, inside Israel, where Palestinian citizens face pending demolition orders. Finally, a few days later, I woke up to the news that the “unrecognised” Palestinian Bedouin village of al-Araqib, in the Negev, had been destroyed in a raid involving 1,300 armed police (and cheering volunteers).
Whether under military rule in the West Bank, or as citizens in Israel, Palestinian communities’ ability to grow naturally is compromised by laws, “zoning” plans and permit systems designed to enforce a regime of separation and inequality. In 2008, a UN report detailed how 94 per cent of Palestinian building permit applications are denied in “Area C” of the West Bank, an area that covers 60 per cent of the territory. Read more
On this year’s Land Day, tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel marched in Sakhnin, an Israeli city in the Lower Galilee, to protest against past and present systematic discrimination. But with the focus on Israel’s policies of land confiscation, there was significance in a second protest that day.
In the Negev (referred to as al-Naqab by Palestinian Bedouins), over 3,000 attended a rally at al-Araqib, an ‘unrecognised’ Palestinian Bedouin village whose lands are being targeted by the familiar partnership of the Israeli state and the Jewish National Fund.
The historical context for the crisis facing Palestinian Bedouins today is important, as the Israeli government and Zionist groups try to propagate the idea that the problems, so far as they exist, are ‘humanitarian’ or ‘cultural’. Read more