Negev Bedouin Clan Fighting Evacuation Orders

Petition to Planning and Building Committee and JNF argues plan places desire to plant forest above constitutional rights of the inhabitants.

Members of the Abu al-Qian Bedouin clan who live in the unrecognized village of Atir are fighting a plan to evacuate the Negev community and plant a forest on the site.

The formal objection to the Yattir Forest Plan was submitted to the Southern District Planning and Building Committee and the Jewish National Fund - both of which are behind the proposal - on behalf of 29 tribe members. It was submitted by attorney Suhad Bishara of Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and town planner Cesar Yehudkin of Bimkom - Planners for Planning Rights.

Emil Salman

The petitioners argue that the plan places the desire to plant a forest above the constitutional rights of the inhabitants.

"The plan is extremely unreasonable, disproportionate and comprehensive because it does not take into account the de facto situation on the ground, the fundamental constitutional rights of area residents and the need to find an appropriate planning solution," they wrote.

The objection notes that the members of the Abu al-Qian tribe moved to their current location in 1956 to comply with a request from the military government, after having been moved repeatedly on state orders.

In the 1970s tribe members submitted claims to land they had lived on until 1948, when they were forced to leave. Some of that land was allocated to Kibbutz Shoval. The case is still being adjudicated.

Eviction orders have been issued to residents of Atir; the case is pending in the Supreme Court.

In 2010 the National Planning and Building Council granted official recognition to the community. The decision was withdrawn after the Prime Minister's Office blocked that recognition. No official ruling has been made on this matter.

Atir is not the only unrecognized Bedouin community in the area that will be affected by the forestation plan; several others have received demolition and evacuation orders.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement said anyone who believes they will be injured by the plan can submit objections, in accordance with the law.

The JNF said all proper procedures are being followed with the plan's approval and that it does not involve the rezoning of land.

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