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 forciblytransferred.
Unsurprisingly, you wouldn’t know that from the Israeli Prime Minister’s communiqué about the decision, which repeatedly used language like development and absorption. There was only a hint about the forced relocation, in the promise to “strengthen the [state’s] enforcement mechanism”.
According to reports, a reduction in the amount of land to be granted the Bedouin was applied following “right-wing political pressure”. Netanyahu himself appointed national security advisor – and national-religious extremist - Yaakov Amidror to assess the plan, after a request for a reappraisal by far-right Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.