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When it comes to displacing Arabs, the Green Line does not exist

The Prawer-Begin Plan is not the first time the state has displaced Bedouins in the Naqab (Negev). But it is a sign of how, 65 years after the state’s establishment, Israel still treats thousands of its Palestinian citizens no differently than those in the territories.

By Amjad Iraqi

Riot Police face a Bedouin during an evacuation of the unrecognized village Al-Araqib (photo: Activestills)

On April 25, a bus carrying Bedouin residents of Al-Araqib drove from the Naqab (Negev) in Israel to the Palestinian village of Susiya in the West Bank. The people were meeting for the first time to watch a screening of a new film by Adalah (the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel), documenting the two villages’ stories of eviction and violence by Israeli authorities and Jewish civilians.

Al-Araqib and Susiya epitomize the injustice experienced by thousands of Palestinian Arabs both inside Israel and the occupied West Bank. Although they live on opposite sides of the border, the two villages are targets of the same Israeli policy of forced displacement. The destruction of homes, police and settler violence, and denial of basic services are all employed by the state to drive these villagers off their land.

Even in Israel proper, the legal structures that are supposed to defend Arab citizens from such discrimination are erased by the state’s belief that Arab rights can be violated at any time in order to maintain superior rights for Jews. Because of this ideology, the displacement of Palestinians is carried out with no regard for citizenship or human rights on either side of the border – as if the Green Line does not exist.

The last week alone has shown that this practice is pervasive and continuing. Political parties in the Israeli government are eagerly preparing their plans to demolish unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Naqab as harshly as possible. The Jaradat family in Jerusalem lost their homes to Israeli bulldozers after years of the municipality rejecting their requests for permits. The Adei Ad outpost demonstrated the creeping dispossession and theft of occupied lands and their damage to Palestinian livelihoods. Israeli citizenship, Jerusalemite status and Palestinian residency failed to protect these Arabs from the same discriminatory policy.

All this is happening while Jewish communities – both in Israel and the West Bank – are given the resources and legal recognition to expand as they please. In the Naqab, the Bedouin village of Umm el-Hieran will be demolished and emptied of inhabitants in order to build a new Jewish town called “Hiran” right over its ruins. In Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, police drag Arab families out of their homes while Jewish settlers enter in their place. In the Jordan Valley, Palestinians are cut off from water and agricultural lands as Israel builds networks of Jewish settlements, military zones and “nature reserves.”

The severity of forced displacement is plain for all to see. But like with many discriminatory laws and practices, the majority of the Israeli population is either ignorant or indifferent to the massive scale of displacement, while others support the policy due to racist misconceptions or beliefs. Despite the efforts of human rights groups to challenge the destruction of Arab communities on both sides of the Green Line, the Israeli courts have been complicit in allowing the policy to continue. All this worsens the lack of accountability for the state’s actions, and erodes any faith left for Israeli law to defend equal and human rights for non-Jews.

What is more alarming is that the policy is set to intensify over the coming years. On May 6, the government approved the latest draft of the Prawer-Begin Plan, which could see up to 70,000 Bedouin citizens forcibly relocated to underfunded and already-overcrowded “townships” in less than one percent of the Naqab’s land. Despite attempts to disguise the Plan as beneficial for the Bedouins, it aims to concentrate Arab communities in as little territory as possible and erase the Bedouins’ claims to their historical lands. Jewish citizens, of course, will continue to build new residences without such fears.

The Prawer-Begin Plan is not the first time the state has displaced Bedouins in the Naqab. But it is a sign of how, 65 years after the state’s establishment, Israel still treats thousands of its Palestinian citizens no differently than those in the occupied territories. The racist ideology that drives forced displacement has weakened the value of citizenship and erased the relevance of the Green Line; and it is that ideology that must be confronted in order to counter the ongoing discrimination faced by Palestinians. There may not yet be one state between the river and the sea, but observers cannot abide by the idea that Israel’s Arab minority, namely its Bedouin citizens, are protected by being on the Israeli side of the border. As a resident of Al-Araqib said after the screening in Susiya, “If my Israeli ID doesn’t give me my rights or protect my land, what use is it to me?”

Amjad Iraqi is an International Advocacy intern at Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. He is a graduate of the Peace and Conflict Studies program at the University of Toronto. The opinions in this article are solely the author’s and do not represent the views of Adalah or +972 Magazine.

Read More:
Israeli coalition parties join forces to reduce land allocated to Bedouin
Resource: The Arab Bedouin of the Naqab – Myths and Misconceptions
Bedouin village in Negev to be destroyed, Jewish settlement to be built on site
WATCH: Jewish settlers await destruction of Bedouin village in Negev
Photo essay: Al-Araqib Bedouin’s ongoing struggle for their land

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Kolumn9

      The Bedouin citizens are not protected in their attempts to claim state land as their own. That they are non-Jews has no relevance on the matter. If their perception of Israeli citizenship is that it is supposed to grant them the right to steal land from the state then no, their citizenship is of no use to them, and that is a good thing.

      What here is the racist misconception? That some citizens should not have the right to set up a tent anywhere they wish and receive ownership of the land? These attempts to insist on special rights for Arab citizens are getting boring and I see no reason to accept them or consider them in any way legitimate.

      Reply to Comment
      • Under this logic many Bank settlements should be removed for encoraching on “State” land. Actually, the State declares the land State land, then gives use rights to the settlers. Sort of different than the present case, huh?

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Any Israeli settlement created without permission on state land in the West Bank should be demolished immediately.

          Reply to Comment
        • Michael W.

          Some “outposts” by settlers in the W. Bank have been demolished dozens of times.

          Reply to Comment
    2. rsgengland

      Illegal settlement on State land is illegal in every country in the world.
      To pretend that it is only happening in Israel, and is racially motivated, either shows absolute bias and/or lack of knowledge.
      The Bedouin in the Negev are being resettled in permanent towns and villages that will eventually receive full infrastructure.

      Reply to Comment
    3. sh

      Interesting that the infrastructure for Jewish settlements in the Negev is put in before the permanent towns are in place. Ooh, and come to think of it the same applies in the West Bank. You set up a ‘caravan’ and an access road’s paved before you know it, even if it’s on private land. Makes it easier for the concrete mixers when the towns are built, see?

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        The same was true for Rahat and Tel Sheva (Bedouin towns). This has nothing to do with the towns in the Negev being Jewish and everything to do with towns built with full coordination with the planning authorities as compared to shanty-towns set up by Bedouins on state land.

        Reply to Comment
    4. sh

      “That they are non-Jews has no relevance on the matter.”
      K9, can Bedouin buy a plot in Sansana, live in a caravan and build a house on it when the permit comes through, as it invariably will?

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Probably not in Sansana, but in most of the Arab villages and towns in Israel that is exactly how it works. Illegal construction is rampant and then I saw yesterday a demand by an Arab MK on Knesset TV to connect structures built illegally to official electricity networks. His argument was that these houses had already been included in a future plan to legalize them so why not connect them to the electricity network now. His main argument was that they are connected to the electricity networks illegally now anyway and it is dangerous so the state should do it despite the lack of any building permits for any of these houses.

        Reply to Comment
    5. directrob

      The Jewish citizens are protected in their attempts to claim Bedouin land as their own. That they are Jewish has no relevance on the matter. If their perception of Jewish religion is that it is supposed to grant them the right to steal land from Bedouins then yes, their religion is of use to them, and that is a very very bad thing.

      What here is the racist misconception? That some citizens should not have the right to set up a tent anywhere they wish and receive ownership of the land? These attempts to insist on special rights for Jewish citizens are getting boring and I see no reason to accept them or consider them in any way legitimate.

      Sorry K9 but I am a bit sick of the hasbara technique of accusing the victims of the crimes committed by the perpetrators.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >The Jewish citizens are protected in their attempts to claim Bedouin land as their own.

        What makes you think that these Israeli Jews would be granted ownership of the land?

        >That some citizens should not have the right to set up a tent anywhere they wish and receive ownership of the land?

        I would love to set up a tent anywhere so I could receive ownership of the land. Could you please provide me with addresses? GPS coordinates would do nicely as well.

        Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        The vast majority of the land that the Bedouin claim in the Negev is not Bedouin. Never has been. It wasn’t Bedouin land during Ottoman times. It wasn’t Bedouin land during British times. It isn’t Bedouin land now.

        The shanty-towns that the Bedouin set up on state land are not as old as time. For example the oft cited example of al-Araqib is less than 20 years old. In 1997 there was nothing there and suddenly the Bedouin show up set up some tents and I am supposed to accept their ownership of the land? On the basis of what other than some kind of special rights for the Bedouin does their claim to the land get support from all these people?

        Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Well, in that case all the land of the Negev belongs to me who inherited it with no written record. Apparently I just have to claim a piece of land, plant some crops and abra cadabra the land is mine. Oh wait, no, I can’t do that unless I am a Bedouin, even if I am a Bedouin who moved into the land in the 19th century from Arabia. In that case the land is mine of course because I inherited it with no written record from … well .. uhm … there is no written record so it doesn’t matter!!

            Is that your brilliant line of argument?

            Reply to Comment
    6. Native Americans too were relocated, then relocated again when the former land was seen as valuable. The US only accepted a quasi-nomadic life for NA’s when such had been placed on reservations; then it didn’t matter what they did there. The Bedouins will be treated similarly. They are only citizens in that they will not be expunged from Israel total.

      The US did no better, likely worse. Israel is facing ethical/moral considerations unrealized in the past–and is failing. I fear the impact on the concept of equal protection and citizenship will be lasting.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Peter Hindrup

      ‘The displacement of Palestinians’, soft, unoffensive, almost like: the child was playing with the kitten, isn’t it.

      Sounds a bit different if it is written: The Palestinians were forcibly ejected from their land by the Israeli military doesn’t it?

      I cannot wait for the day that all newby Israelis are lined up on the docks awaiting ships to whichever countries will have them — that is if ANY country will accept any.

      Reply to Comment

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