Israel plans to displace 30,000 Bedouin Israeli citizens

October 26, 2011

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(AP/Dan Balilty)
A Bedouin girl holds a bag of milk in her village outside Beersheba, in southern Israel.

Last month, the Israeli government approved a plan to relocate 30,000 Bedouin Arabs living in unrecognized villages and tent encampments in southern Israel to settlements recognized by the state. Critics say the plan forcibly removes people from their ancestral lands and sends them to some of the most destitute parts of the country.

In response to criticism, a spokesperson for the Israel Lands Administration recently said the government is “making the utmost efforts so that people don’t have to be uprooted.” He added, “We’re accommodating them to an amazing degree.”

We hear from a wide range of Israeli citizens, both Arab and Jewish, who are concerned about the relocation. The activists are on a tour of the U.S sponsored by the Campaign for Bedouin-Jewish Justice in Israel and Rabbis for Human Rights.

Rawia Abu-Rabia is a civil rights attorney and Palestinian Bedouin citizen of Israel. Michal Rotem is a Jewish Israeli with the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality in Israel. And Dr. Thabet Abu Ras is an academic who works for minority rights with Adalah: the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.