Tree-Planting in the Negev is No Solution and Only Fuels the Fire
© Leonid Spektor | Dreamstime.com
Arab and Bedouin citizens in the Negev suffer from severe discrimination and live in an intolerable reality, wherein they’re vulnerable to discrimination through the allocation of land resources, planning, housing, denial of essential services, and more. Within this reality of life, Jewish National Fund tree-planting is used as a tool to seize as much land as possible and to prevent Bedouin from accessing their land.
Some of the land is used by the residents for agriculture or dwellings, or is designated for the future development of existing villages. Tree-planting is not coordinated with Bedouin residents who live in the same territory, and the villages are entered with increased police presence, which causes friction and growing violence. This occurs without consideration of future authorization procedures for unrecognized villages, as in the case of Wadi al-Na'am, the largest unrecognized Bedouin village in the Negev.
Judging by the results, the state seems to be speaking two different languages to the Bedouin residents. On the one hand, the state expresses interest in unrecognized villages’ future regulatory procedures and the development of existing villages, while on the other hand it maintains the policy of overtaking land through planting trees and executing extensive home demolitions.
We call for an end to the policy of planting trees, which merely fuels the fire without promoting applicable solutions. Immediate action is necessary to calm circumstances and prevent violence. The Bedouin historical connection to land in the Negev must be recognized through a series of authorization plans that will be implemented in cooperation with residents of the unrecognized villages, and the villages’ needs must be met in protecting the human rights and well-being of Bedouin residents.