“In his communication of 1 February 2011, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, called the attention of the Government of Israel to the alleged demolitions of “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in the Negev desert and the relocation of their inhabitants to government-planned villages. The full text of this communication can be accessed from the electronic version of the joint communications report (A/HRC/18/51), which is available on the web site of the Human Rights Council. This communication followed a request by the Special Rapporteur for a visit to Israel to examine the situation of the Bedouin people in the Negev, transmitted to the Government on 1 September 2010. The Special Rapporteur had not received a reply to that visit request. Nor did the Government respond to his communication of 1 February 2011 within 60 days as requested by the Special Rapporteur. In the absence of a response to his communication, the Special Rapporteur developed the observations below, which include an evaluation of the situation and recommendations, within the framework of relevant international standards. These observations were transmitted to the Government on 16 June 2011. Subsequently, the Government submitted a response on 15 August 2011.
Summary of the information received and transmitted to the Government
2. According to the information received, the Bedouin have inhabited the area known as Negev since the seventh century, maintaining a semi-nomadic lifestyle, engaging in subsistence farming and raising livestock. Their land use practices were governed by an intricate system of customary land and water distribution and management. Allegedly, since 1948 the State of Israel has failed to recognize Bedouin legal entitlement to their traditional lands in the Negev, and instead most all of the lands in the Negev are officially designated as under ownership by the State. Rather than adopt a land policy that recognizes the villages established by the Bedouin in the Negev, from the 1960s to the 1980s the Government planned and created seven towns in the Negev and relocated Bedouin from their villages to these urban areas. These planned towns are Rahat, Ar’ara BaNegev, Tel Sheva, Kuseifa, Segev Shalom, Lakiya and Hura. Even though the Government has committed significant resources toward Bedouin housing and delivery of essential services within the planned towns, the people in the Government-created towns reportedly rank at the bottom of all the indicators used by the State to measure social and economic wellbeing. Furthermore, the Bedouin have complained that they cannot continue to live in their traditional manner in these urban areas, given that raising crops or animals in the towns is not allowed.
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