By Yeela Raanan, Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages in the Negev , 5 June 2007
Yesterday, June 4th 2007, the Internal Affairs Committee agreed: The first municipal elections in the Regional Council of Abu-Basma for the Bedouin villages is postponed a year – because of insufficient effort by the government officials.
The Regional Council of Abu-Basma was established by the Government of Israel four years ago as the municipality for the newly-recognized Bedouin Villages. Over the four years twelve villages have received recognition and are supposed to receive their services from their newly established regional council – “Abu Basma”.
However, the policies towards the villages and their residents have been only of oppression and deprivation: the government is still insisting on non-recognition of Bedouin traditional ownership of land and is confiscating from one only to turn around and sell to another. Of course the Bedouins refuse to buy their neighbor’s land from the government. The government is insisting that the planning of the villages be done without community involvement. The result is that the villages are planned in manners that are inappropriate to the culture and the needs of the population, with only one aim in mind – minimizing the use of land – so that the government can free up as much land to hand over to the Jewish citizens.
The Government of Israel has already confiscated since 1948 98% of the Bedouin’s land. Now, through the Abu-Basma regional council and the enforced planning the government is attempting to confiscate the rest.
Hssein al-Rafia, head of the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages (RCUV – an NGO), together with residents of the Abu-Basma villages, and human rights activists gave testimony at the Internal Affairs Committee in the Israeli Knesset to the state of affairs within the Abu-Basma regional council and the communities it is supposed to serve. The Internal Affairs Committee chastened the high level administrators for the lack of community involvement in all levels of decision-making and administration, and for not accelerating development in the villages under its jurisdiction.
If the policies towards the Abu-Basma villages remain as they are, the result is fully predictable: the planning and the development will come to a standstill, and the Bedouins will be blamed for their lack of cooperation…
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