RCUV's Recommendations for the Goldberg Commission!
The Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages (RCUV) is calling for people to respond to Israel's Goldberg Commission on the Bedouin. Write to Dr. Yeela Raanan with questions or to share any letter's you send to the commission. Go to this page to see what we suggest you write about.
"The Goldberg Commission - It Is Time To Say Your Word!"
The Goldberg Commission was established by the Government of Israel to present recommendations regarding the Bedouin settlement in the Negev.
Some information from the RCUV:
* With the establishment of the State of Israel, the Bedouins became citizens of the state and swore allegiance to the state.
* All governments followed a policy of concentration and urbanization. The aim is "freeing lands" for Jewish use.
* This policy has brought upon the Bedouin community dire poverty: 80% of Bedouin children live below the poverty line – most well below. The towns established by the government are now slums.
* The insistence of the government not to acknowledge Bedouin ownership of their historical lands has obstructed the development of the established towns, and well as the villages recently recognized under the government appointed Abu-Basma Regional Council.
* More results of these policies: most members of the Bedouin community do not have an authority they can apply to for building permits, thus most all their homes are under the threat of demolitions, the schooling system is the worst in Israel, there are no high schools culturally appropriate for the girls in the community, the health system is appalling, etc. This at times even causes the death of the children of the community, for example the death from cold of the girl last week because her home is made of tin, the death of the child last year as his head was torn off because of the dire roads his school bus must use, the death by drowning two months ago of a boy in a floodwater pool by his home. These are the worst stories, all the others live knowing that only by chance it was not their child yet.
Will the Goldberg Committee understand that the state of affairs in the Negev must be transformed? It does not seem so – as not one representative from the Unrecognized Villages sits on this committee. Will this be yet another committee that will continue the policies of concentration and urbanization? And will the Government of Israel be capable of accepting recommendations that will be worthy of the Bedouin citizens living by us in the Negev?
What is needed to bring about real change?
* Any solution must be arrived by agreement and not by force. The residents of the unrecognized villages have elected a leader – the director of the RCUV – Hussein al Rafia.
* Most of the unrecognized villages in the Negev, including those brought under the governance of the Abu Basma Regional Council are historical villages – meaning they are residing on the lands that the forefathers have owned for hundreds of years. This ownership is acknowledged in the Bedouin court system. The Government of Israel must acknowledge this land ownership, so that planning and development can begin. The entire land under dispute is no more than 2% of the Negev lands. The Bedouins are more than 25% of the Negev population.
* For the villages that were displaced in the 1950s and are not sitting on their historical lands – the government must negotiate with the residents a fair and equitable solution.
* The Government of Israel must allow the Bedouin use of their historical lands – and add more lands for their use - in order to allow a source of income. Because of the attitude of the government towards the Bedouin community over the years, the level of education within the population is very low, there are no employment opportunities in the Negev, and the Israeli job market discriminates against Arabs. Land in the Negev is in abundance, and agriculture is in accordance with Bedouin culture. The Bedouin community will be pleased to help carry out Ben Gurion's dream – Making the Desert Bloom!
The Goldberg Committee is requesting people to submit their positions. Please do so!
This is the official notice from the Israeli newspapers (translated from Hebrew):
The Government of Israel
The Ministry of Housing and Construction
The Committee for the Regulation of the Bedouin Settlements in the Negev
The Government of Israel decided on October 28th 2007 to request that the Ministry of Housing and Construction establish a committee that will submit recommendations to the government on regulating the Bedouin settlement in the Negev, including recommendations for governmental rulings. On December 23rd 2007 the Minister of Housing and Construction nominated the members of the committee, according the government's decision. The Committee wishes to receive the public's positions (individuals and associations) on these issues. Therefore the committee is requesting from all who can contribute to send a written statement to the committee. It must arrive before February 14th 2008.
The appeal is to be sent to the committee coordinator, Ms. Sharon Nikolitch, Ministry of Housing and Construction, Government offices, 4 Hatikva St, Beer Sheva, zipcode 84893, or by fax to +972 8 6263719, or by email to email@example.com.
Supreme Court judge (retired)
The members of the Goldberg Commission are:
* Yoram Bar Sela – expert on land issues.
* Bilha Givon – Bar Kayma NGO director
* Yosi Shai – Vice Director in the Ministry of Agriculture.
* Dudu Cohen – Director of Ministry of Interior in the Negev
* Sharon Gamsho – Vice Commissioner for Allocations in the Ministry of Finance, Department of Macro Economy and Lands
* Faisal el-Huzayel – Deputy Head of Mayor of the Bedouin city of Rahat
* Ahmad el-Asad – Municipal Head of the Bedouin town of Laqiya
For more information contact: Dr. Yeela Raanan, RCUV. firstname.lastname@example.org +972 54 7487005