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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05TELAVIV2540
2005-04-22 14:34:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Tel Aviv
Cable title:  

ARAB-ISRAELI REACTIONS TO GOI'S NEGEV AND GALILEE

Tags:   ECON  PREL  IS  ECONOMY  AND  FINANCE  ISRAELI  SOCIETY 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 002540 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/21/2015
TAGS: ECON PREL IS ECONOMY AND FINANCE ISRAELI SOCIETY
SUBJECT: ARAB-ISRAELI REACTIONS TO GOI'S NEGEV AND GALILEE
DEVELOPMENT PLAN

REF: A. 04 TEL AVIV 02901

B. 04 TEL AVIV 03085

C. 04 TEL AVIV 03393

Classified By: Charge d'affaires Gene A. Cretz for reasons 1.4 (b)
and (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 002540

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/21/2015
TAGS: ECON PREL IS ECONOMY AND FINANCE ISRAELI SOCIETY
SUBJECT: ARAB-ISRAELI REACTIONS TO GOI'S NEGEV AND GALILEE
DEVELOPMENT PLAN

REF: A. 04 TEL AVIV 02901

B. 04 TEL AVIV 03085

C. 04 TEL AVIV 03393

Classified By: Charge d'affaires Gene A. Cretz for reasons 1.4 (b)
and (d)


1. (C) SUMMARY: In April Econoff met with several
Israeli-Arab advocacy groups who expressed concern over the
GOI's economic development plan for the Galilee and the
Negev, which the GOI is pushing forward in tandem with
disengagement. Citing historical disenfranchisement of
Israeli Arabs in implementation of state economic policies,
including home demolitions and forced relocation of Negev
Bedouin, these groups expressed a lack of confidence in the
GOI's ability to distribute land fairly. All GOI plans
involving development in the Galilee and the Negev are a
concern, according to our contacts, if they fail to include
financial assistance and land allotments for the Arab
minority groups living in those areas. Israeli-Arab groups
collectively voiced plans to Econoff to examine closely
government initiatives, and emphasized their concern that
any USG assistance not be used to facilitate GOI expansion
into existing Arab towns and villages in the Galilee and
the Negev. END SUMMARY.

-------------- --------------
ACAP: GOI Development Equals Loss of Israeli-Arab Land
-------------- --------------


2. (C) On April 13, Dr. Hanna Swaid, chairman of The Arab
Center for Alternative Planning (ACAP), described to
Econoff the concerns of the Israeli-Arab population
regarding the GOI's proposed economic development of the
Negev and Galilee. Swaid said he believes the plan is
primarily geared towards Jewish Israelis and is designed to
displace Israeli Arabs. Regions within Israel in which
there is a strong Israeli-Arab presence like the Galilee
and the Bedouin settlements in the Negev will be negatively
affected, he said. Swaid emphasized that he will publicly
advocate that the U.S. not support the GOI in any
initiative that could mean loss of land or further economic
disenfranchisement for Israeli-Arab citizens. Swaid
illustrated his concerns by citing a recent objection the

ACAP filed with the Southern District Planning Commission
in the Negev against a project to develop land between
southern Gaza and Beersheva, for what Swaid believes are to
be new residential communities for settlers evacuated from
the northern West Bank. "Such a project holds nothing
positive for Israeli Arabs, especially not for the
Bedouin," he said.

-------------- --------------
---
Bedouin Leadership: Any U.S. Assistance Will Hopefully
Consider the Bedouin
-------------- --------------
---


3. (C) On April 15, Econoff met with Faisal Sawalha of the
NGO Regional Council for the Bedouin of the Unrecognized
Villages (RCBUV). Sawalha highlighted Bedouin frustration
over the GOI's systematic demolition of Bedouin homes in
the unrecognized villages, adding that he does not know
whether the demolitions are related to "the GOI's plan to
find new homes for Israeli settlers, relocation of the
Bedouin, or economic Negev development." He also
complained that "no Bedouin or Arab is a member" of any of
the GOI authorities responsible for Negev development,
including committees within the National Security Council,
the Ministry of the Interior, or the Israel Lands
Authority. Sawalha said that while RCBUV has no specific
strategy to counter the GOI's development initiatives, they
have drawn up an "alternative development program" that
includes recognition and expansion of existing Bedouin
villages, and that they are looking into hiring outside
professionals to examine any GOI Negev economic
initiatives.


4. (C) Dr. Thabet Abu Ras of the Shatil Foundation for
Equality told Econoff that any USG assistance provided to
the GOI for Negev development should include specific
earmarks for improving the lot of the Bedouin. "Expelling
the Bedouin" from their homes and ancestral lands in the
Negev cannot be part of any economic development plan, Abu
Ras insisted. He said he will travel next month to the
U.S. to lobby private organizations for Bedouin-specific
assistance, and will meet with members of Congress to
convince them that aid for Negev development must be
conditional upon Israel providing economic support for the
Bedouin localities. He will also encourage Congress to
pressure Israel towards direct communication with Bedouin
leadership.

--------------
A Development Plan for Whom?
--------------

5. (C) On April 21, Adalah, an NGO which addresses the
legal rights of the Arab minority in Israel, told Econoff
that although Adalah is not aware of plan specifics, the
organization is "not optimistic" that Israeli Arabs will
benefit from any proposed economic initiative. Mrs. Suhad
Bishara, who is an Adalah lawyer, cited an ever-widening
social, political and economic gap between the Jewish and
Israeli-Arab communities since the 1970's. She said the
GOI has maintained a policy towards the Negev and Galilee
of encouraging Jewish families to relocate to these regions
to "balance out" heavily populated Arab centers. Adalah
International Advocacy Director Rina Rosenburg noted that,
in her view, the GOI's historical expansion plans have
created "slums and ghettos" of Israeli-Arab towns. Turning
to the GOI'S reported request for supplemental assistance
from the USG, she explained that any money that is either
public or private that goes to create segregated areas is
morally wrong. Adalah will "challenge" unfair aspects of
the plan through judicial organs, she said. On the
question of benefits for the Israeli Arabs, from revenues
generated by the development plan, Bishara said that this
plan, like its predecessors would "exclude" Israeli Arabs.
"We know what this plan is and its prospects for the next
20 or 30 years. This is not new," said Mrs. Bishara.

-------------- --------------
Comment: What Development Means for Israeli-Arab NGO'S
-------------- --------------


6. (C) Econoff's meetings with Israeli-Arab NGO'S showed
that these groups would like to see any U.S. assistance to
the GOI for economic development in the Galilee and Negev
include the Israeli Arab communities. As of now, however,
there is no coordinated effort by these groups to address
the GOI on its economic initiative.


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