Bedouin village claims Guinness world record for repeated house demolitions
For background article, see Cabinet approves plan to relocate Negev Bedouin
Palestinian villagers demand Guinness entry for demolition record
By Al Arabiya
13 June 2012
Residents of an Arab village in Israel demanded entry into Guinness World Records for breaking a record in the number of demolitions carried out by Israeli authorities.
The Bedouin village of al-Araqeeb, whose population is estimated at 500, is located in the Negev in southern Israel and has had its houses demolished 38 times upon instructions from the Israel Land Administration.
“Our village has become a living example of the flagrant violations committed by the Israeli authorities against its Arab population,” Awad Abu Farih, head of the Committee for the Defense of al-Araqeeb told the Anatolian Agency.
The demolitions are done under the pretext that residents do not have building permits in the village, he added.
“They want to get us out of our lands even though we have ownership documents that go back to the Ottoman era.”
Abu Farih stressed that even though the number of demolitions has reached an astounding 38, the villagers remain adamant on resisting the Israeli authorities.
“Every time they demolish our houses, we rebuild them and we will keep doing that even if the demolitions reach 99. We will never leave our land.”
Al-Araqeeb was last demolished on May 23 and like the previous times, the whole village was leveled to the ground and the contents of its houses were confiscated. Residents, however, keep rebuilding the houses whose number is estimated at 40.
Despite their perseverance, villagers admit to living in constant fear with their village at risk of another demolition any minute.
Villagers have so far not taken any official steps towards taking al-Araqeeb to Guinness but are planning to do so shortly. According to them, this initiative basically aims are drawing the world’s attention to the constant injustices and discriminatory practices to which they are subjected.
Al-Araqeeb is home to an ancient cemetery that dates back to hundreds of years ago and which residents consider an important evidence of their historic right to the village.
Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid
The Prawer Plan and Analysis
Basic Overview: On 11 September 2011, the Government of Israel approved a plan for the regulation of settlement of Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel in the unrecognized villages in the Naqab (Negev) in the south. The plan was prepared by a Committee headed by Mr. Ehud Prawer, former deputy chairman of the National Security Council (i). The Prawer Committee was established in 2009 to implement the 2008 Goldberg Committee recommendations (ii). The “Prawer Plan” is based on the still-pending master plan for Metropolitan Be’er Sheva (TMM 23/14/4) and is divided into two main components (iii):
1) Resolving ownership claims and compensation for these claims’ with strict enforcement mechanisms and a 5-year timeline, which is to be presented to the Knesset as a law in November 2011 (iv);
2) Planning arrangements for permanent Arab Bedouin settlement within a clearly demarcated region in the Naqab, based on the master plan for Metropolitan Be’er Sheva. The settlement plan will result in the displacement of 40,000 Arab Bedouin from their homes and villages.
1) Ownership Claims and Compensation Criteria:
Who is eligible to receive compensation?
• The right to receive compensation will be based on ownership claims that were filed by Arab Bedouin in 1971 (hereinafter “original ownership claims”). These criteria will be determined by law and will not be subject to negotiation. (Government Decision (GD), p. 9)
• Arrangements for compensation will only apply to a person who submitted a ‘claims
memorandum’ before 24 October 1979, and whose claim was not subsequently rejected by an administrator or a court of law (GD, p. 9)
How much land can be claimed and compensated?
• For a legally established ownership claim (on land designated as agricultural), the compensation given will equal up to 50% of the land claimed. (GD, p. 9)
• Compensation for the remaining 50% of land will only be made available after the initial 50% has been relinquished to the State. (GD, p. 19, Article 1.6.5)
What kind of compensation?
• In the form of land if: Evidence exists of agricultural work and residence proximate in time to the filing of the original ownership claim, and only if the land was held at that time and is not currently held by the state or another person through agreement with the state; (GD, p. 9)
• In the form of monetary compensation if:
Land is ‘not held’, and compensation will be provided at a rate proposed in the plan along with an opportunity to exchange the money for plots of land that the government will be obliged to develop for the property claimant, subject to the arrangements detailed in the plan. (GD, p. 9)
What kind of land?
• The proposed arrangement will not enable compensation for claims of ownership of grazing lands but will only apply to property the claimant ‘held and cultivated’ whose slope is less than 13% (v) (GD, pp. 9, 13; see also Amidror Amendment (vi)[AA], 10.C.2)
• Land that has already been expropriated is not eligible for compensation (AA, 10.H)
Timeline for compensation:
• The claimants of original property claims will be called to confirm their claim within two and a half years. The claimant will be allotted nine months to confirm their original claims. (GD, p. 30)
• “If the claimant or his representative do not negotiate their land claim through the Planning Office or court [within the time line] the land claim will be settled and registered in the name of the State.” (GD, p. 30)
• The Prawer Plan is intended to put an end, within five years, to ‘all of the activity surrounding the issue of the lands and to most of the efforts involved in the planning of settlement solutions, and even to a significant part of their implementation.’ (GD, pp. 11, 30 (Art. 3.1))
2) Planning Arrangement for Permanent Bedouin Settlement
• Compensation in the form of land will not be granted, and no settlement will be planned west of Route 40, other than in the area of the northern Rahat triangle and the area of Bir Hadaj. (AA, 10.A)
Proposed Solution for Settlement
• Solutions for the existing population will be in the existing seven government planned towns, in the Abu Basma villages (or by expanding the jurisdiction of such villages) and in new settlements (GD, p. 26, Article 2.5.2)
• The establishment of new settlements is contingent upon the ‘criteria of population density and continuity’, as well as ‘an examination of size and economic capacity.’ (GD, p. 24, Article 2.2.1)
Who has the Authority to Regulate Settlement?
• A small implementation team will be formed within the Prime Minister’s Office.
• The Prime Minister will be entitled to choose not to implement the planning regulation in specific areas if the conditions are not ripe, or if the Prime Minister believes that doing so would hinder the law from achieving its stated purpose; or for any other planning, organization, economic or other reasons related to the community” (GD, p. 30, Art. 3.1.1)
• No Arab Bedouin was consulted in this planning process
• The planning arrangement prohibits Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel from inhabiting or claiming land in entire areas of the Naqab
• The proposed solution for Arab Bedouin settlement entails the demolition of most of the unrecognized villages and the expulsion of 40,000 citizens
• The plan is intentionally vague: it does not contain a map, the names of villages affected or actual amounts or location of the land
• The Prawer Committee adopted the Goldberg Committee’s new criteria for establishing Arab Bedouin towns (population density, continuity, size and economic capacity) that do not apply to Jewish towns in the Naqab
• The unique involvement and wide discretion of the Prime Minister’s Office in the planning arrangement for Bedouin settlement unprecedented and unrestrained
• It discriminates between Arabs and Jews in land and planning in the Naqab.
Dr. Thabet Abu Ras, Director of Adalah’s Naqab Project: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rina Rosenberg, International Advocacy Director, Adalah: email@example.com
Telephone: +972-4-950-1610 (Haifa office) / +972-8-665-0740 (Beer el-Sabe office)
(i) Government Decision, Confirming the Recommendations for Regulation of the Bedouin Settlement in the Negev, 11 September 2011 [hereinafter Government Decision or GD]; In approving the plan, the government also accepted amendments by National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, who was commissioned by the State to review the plan in June 2011 (Government Decision no. 3707, 11 September 2011)
(ii) The Prawer Plan ignored central recommendations made by the Goldberg Committee including granting recognition to unrecognized villages and freezing home demolitions, as well as its emphasis that the Arab Bedouin in the Naqab (Negev) are equal citizens of the state with historical, ancestral ties to the land.
(iii) A socio-economic development component is also included (Government Decision no. 3708, 11 September 2011).
(iv) The bill is to be proposed with 60 days of the Government decision (i.e. 11 November 2011) and will then begin the process of legislation which includes 45 days for public hearing.
(v) i.e. Any land that is above a 13% slope automatically becomes state land.
(v1) See Government Meeting no. 117, 11 September 2011.