Talks Over Voluntary Evacuation of Bedouin Village Break Down

Under the plan residents of Umm al-Hiran were to be housed in temporary accommodation for 15 years, followed by a permanent move to the town of Hura, both of which they were unable to abide

Two Bedouin men watch as Israeli authorities carry out house demolitions in Umm al-Hiran, September 19, 2017.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Negotiations over voluntary departure for the residents of the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran have broken down, the Bedouin Development Authority has informed them. The authority has transferred the issue to the Israel Land Authority, which may evacuate the village by force.

The negotiations were undertaken in order to achieve a voluntary evacuation of the residents. According to the plan, they would be placed in a temporary neighborhood with prefab homes, followed by a move to a permanent neighborhood in the town of Hura. According to the Bedouin Development Authority, some of the residents agreed to the plan and signed an agreement last July. The agreement included holding a survey in the village to assess property values, which would establish the levels of compensation residents would receive. The authority claims that residents did not allow the survey to take place, thus invalidating the agreement.

A resident of Umm al-Hiran confirmed to Haaretz that the people who had signed the agreement had retracted their consent.

The Bedouin Development Authority has now told residents that it would have to evacuate them to Hura as originally planned – a move they oppose.

Representatives of the residents say they object to the temporary quarters, which are planned to last for 15 years. The Bedouin Development Authority says that the two-stage move was planned in order to facilitate a voluntary move. The head of the authority, Yair Ma’ayan, says that anyone who doesn’t wish to move to the new neighborhood in Hura won’t have to.

The state intends to evacuate Umm al-Hiran to build a Jewish village in its place. Last January police arrived there to demolish several houses. In the ensuing clashes, the police killed Yakub Musa Abu al-Kiyan, whose car had hit and killed policeman Erez Levi. The incident is being investigated at the behest of the state prosecutor.