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Daily Israel Report

Bedouin Squatters Appeal Against Legal Jewish Communities

Deputy mayor of Arad criticizes Bedouin from unrecognized villages who petitioned against a decision to build new Jewish communities.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/16/2012, 12:14 AM

Illegal Bedouin construction
Illegal Bedouin construction
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Maxim Oknin, the Deputy Mayor of Arad, criticized on Wednesday a group of Bedouin from unrecognized villages for petitioning to the Supreme Court against a government decision to build seven new Jewish communities on the outskirts of Arad.

The petitioners are claiming that the plan calls for the demolition of five unrecognized Bedouin villages which are inhabited by 8,000 people, and that there is no need to establish new Jewish communities in the area.

Oknin rejected the claims, telling Arutz Sheva, “It is enough to see who filed the petition. The plan received all the necessary approvals, the Jewish communities will strengthen the Negev and are being established for professional considerations. They are always automatically against the construction of any Jewish community.”

He added, “It is inconceivable that the Bedouin who took over State land illegally will argue today that it is forbidden to destroy their homes. If someone would take over land in northern Tel Aviv, would he not be evicted? It’s only in the Negev that the government does not know how to evict squatters. The State of Israel has decided to move the Bedouin settlements to regulated areas, so this is nothing but a provocative claim.”

Oknin said that he is convinced that the Supreme Court will reject the petition.

“The Jewish communities will be built on State land, there are long term plans, and no doubt these communities will strengthen the entire Negev. The territorial contiguity between Be’er Sheva and the Dead Sea will be maintained. The establishment of the communities will enhance the transportation system between Arad, Be’er Sheva and central Israel and will help the entire Jewish population in the area.”