The UN human rights chief on last week criticized “Prawer Bill” to demolish dozens of Bedouin villages and move up to 40,000 Arab residents to Israeli-built communities. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem “Navi” Pillay, said that Prawer Bill would wipe out legitimate land claims for the Bedouins in the Negev.
“As citizens of Israel, the Arab Bedouins are entitled to the same rights to property, housing and public services as any other group in Israel,” Pillay said. “The government must recognize and respect the specific rights of its Bedouin communities. If this bill becomes law, it will accelerate the demolition of entire Bedouin communities, forcing them to give up their homes, denying them their rights to land ownership, and decimating their traditional cultural and social life in the name of development,” Pillay said. She charged that the Israeli government continues to actively pursue a discriminatory policy of forced displacement against its own Arab citizens. Two years ago, Pillay visited Israel and expressed concerns that Bedouin villages in the Negev were still unrecognized.
Pillay urged Israel to adopt the findings of the 2008 Goldberg Commission, which recommended that the government recognize as many villages as possible. “Respect for the legitimate rights of minorities is a fundamental tenet of democracy,” she said.