The Meretz party this week condemned the actions of the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet l’Yisrael) at the unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Arakib, north of Beersheva, branding them a “racist policy, arising from a viewpoint that regards the Bedouin in the Negev as a nuisance, rather than as citizens with equal rights.”
Meretz called for the recognition of al-Arakib and for the provision of basic infrastructure there, and demanded that the JNF immediately suspend its plans to plant a forest at al-Arakib that would deny the villagers any chance of return.
Since last July, the Meretz Executive noted, the homes in al-Arakib have been demolished more than ten times by the Israel Land Administration and the Israel Police – first the permanent houses, and since then the tents and temporary structures that the residents have continually rebuilt.
Over the last few weeks, the situation has deteriorated further: The police had begun to use clubs, rubber bullets and teargas during the demolitions, while making arrests of villagers and other activists. In addition, the JNF had begun to prepare the ground for the planting of a forest atop al-Arakib’s ruins so that the village could not be rebuilt.
The District Court in Beerhseva issued a temporary injunction against the JNF’s actions, and although the injunction was not extended, the judge recommended that the JNF not continue its work so as not to create irreversible facts on the ground. The JNF rejected the judge’s recommendation, however.
In light of these developments, the Meretz Executive resolved as follows:
- The Meretz Executive regards the demolition of the al-Arakib village as a racist policy, arising from a viewpoint that regards the Bedouin in the Negev as a nuisance, rather than as citizens with equal rights.
- Both law and justice require that al-Arakib be recognized, and that infrastructure be provided there for the welfare of its residents.
- The Meretz Executive condemns the conduct of the JNF, which insists on entering village land and planting trees where the houses of the residents once stood. It calls on the JNF to cease all its activities in the al-Arakib area.
Meretz representatives on the JNF directorate, Micha Drori and Radi Sfuri, have approached JNF officials, demanding that its operations at al-Arakib cease.
For the report in Hebrew, click here.