Israel launches development plan for Bedouin localities

In the framework of a new plan to regularize Bedouin settlement in the south, Israel has started a marketing campaign for 600 new housing units, providing polygamous families with special eligibility criteria.

REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun.

févr. 24, 2014

Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has shelved the Prawer Plan, the development of recognized Bedouin localities in the Negev desert is going full steam ahead. [Israel’s daily business newspaper] Calcalist has learned that the Authority for Regulating Bedouin Settlement in the Negev plans to market in the near future some 600 housing units in the Bedouin village of Kuseife, located in the vicinity of the Israeli town of Arad. The state of Israel is to invest about 49 million shekels [just about $14 million] in the development of two new neighborhoods in the village. In addition, public spaces have been reserved to the benefit of the residents, where educational institutions, medical centers, social centers and commercial centers will be built, and parks and green areas will be developed — with a further investment of 2.8 million shekels [$800,000].

The lots are offered at prices ranging from 180,000 to 300,000 shekels [about $51,000 to $86,000] — and this, in two main neighborhoods: In Neighborhood 30, which is located in the center of the village, 94 lots of 960 square meters each, designed to make up 188 housing units, will be put on sale; while in Neighborhood 48, which is located on the eastern boundary of the village, close to Route 80 (and the Tel Arad-Aro'er Junction), some 171 lots averaging about 540 square meters each, will be sold, and on each such lot a single housing unit will be built.

Besides, there are about 56 vacant lots in Neighborhoods 45 and 46, of 986 square meters on the average, where some 224 new housing units can be built (four units per lot), and there are also nearly 90 vacant, and already developed lots in Neighborhoods 13 and 15 in the village. The lots will be marketed in the heart of the village, as well as in the new neighborhoods to be developed.

According to the eligibility criteria, lot buyers must be over the age of 18, and have no other property in their ownership. Furthermore, the eligibility criteria allow a man married to several women to purchase a number of lots — as many as the number of wives he has. Thus, a man married to three women will be eligible to purchase three lots. What’s more, the Authority officials will have to get to know the extended Bedouin families and, accordingly, make sure that feuding clans are not given the opportunity to buy adjoining lots.

Unlike other localities [in Israel], where land is marketed solely by the Israel Lands Authority, in this case, a unit of the Israel Lands Authority is operating under, and subject to the Authority for Regulating Bedouin Settlement in the Negev. The current marketing campaign has been launched following the marketing of 453 lots in the Bedouin towns of Rahat and Segev Shalom in the course of 2013.

In addition, the Authority for Regulating Bedouin Settlement in the Negev has already put in motion the development of Stage Two in the locality of Lakia.

“After some really hard work by all the parties concerned in the Bedouin Authority, done with the participation of various government ministries, we have managed to break through and come out with a message of hope to the population residing in Kuseife and its environs,” said Yehuda Bachar, director-general of the Authority for Regulating Bedouin Settlement in the Negev.

Said Bachar: “More than 600 housing units have been authorized for building in Kuseife. It is a real revolution, which, more than anything else, is indicative of the goals of the Authority — namely, to further develop the existing [Bedouin] communities, and to give hope to the local residents and young couples who wish to lawfully set up their home [in the Negev].”