UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has criticized an Israeli plan to knock down about 35 Bedouin villages in the Negev Desert and relocate up to 40,000 residents.
Under legislation currently being considered by the Knesset, the Bedouins would receive some compensation if they move to one of seven official urban Bedouin townships built by the Israeli government.
The bill would end landownership claims by the nomadic Bedouins that predate the founding of the state of Israel.
Israel says it’s attempting to improve the Bedouins’ quality of life by moving them from makeshift villages with no services to towns where electricity, water and sewer hookups and decent roads can be provided.
"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.
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