Bedouin ask UN to help fight systemic discrimination in Israel
Bedouin counter-report to state findings on discrimination claims Bedouin not given equal rights as citizens.
The Bedouin sector is to submit a counter-report to the United Nations alongside the official state report on discrimination, as part of its demand that the international body help fight systemic discrimination against Bedouin in Israel.
When the Justice Ministry submits its report in August, social groups will simultaneously submit documents criticizing the state report and elucidating state discrimination against the Bedouin sector. Bedouin say they are not treated as equal citizens in Israel.
Israel is a signatory to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, and periodically submits reports on advancements in the arena.
The state will submit its next report in Geneva in August. The Negev Coexistence Forum, in conjunction with Physicians for Human Rights, prepared a counter-report pointing out failings in the state report.
Services: According to the state report, in Bedouin towns citizens "receive services at a level equal to every other citizen in the state."
According to the counter-report, there are six Bedouin towns recognized as "permanent communities" and one city, Rahat. There is no public transportation in any of the towns. Rahat has 40,000 residents, one post office, one bank, and no public library. The towns do not have any of these services, unlikes Jewish towns with an equal number of residents, according to the Adva Center.
Land: The state report writes that "members of the Bedouin community were given more land per person than any other population."
The counter-report shows a different picture. There are currently 45 Bedouin villages, among which only 10 are legally recognized. Despite the more than hundred Jewish agricultural villages in the Negev, until recently there was not a single Bedouin agricultural village. The two Bedouin villages now defined as "agricultural" were not given proper water rations or crop rations, according to former Bedouin Administration chairman and current Rahat city adviser Eli Atzmon.
Haya Noah, of the Negev Coexistence Forum, said land allocation in one village is 10,000 dunam for 1,000 people, compared to Jewish communities who are each given thousands of dunams for fewer than one hundred families.
Water: The state reports that since 1997, the sedentary population in unrecognized villages have had access to water. The Bedouin Administration claims that in 2003, the water committee converged only four times, and approved only six out of 80 requests for water. Bedouin say that in certain cases it took a year to hook up a water system and at a cost of NIS 10,000.
Religion: Israeli law grants its citizens access to holy sites. According to the Bedouin report, the city of Be'er Sheva refused to delineate the only mosque in the city as a prayer center or as a Muslim community center, as recommended by the High Court of Justice. A city spokesperson said the building can not be used as a place of worship, but as a museum, as it hasn't been used as a mosque for over 60 years.
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