Emptied Lands: A Legal Geography of Bedouin Rights in the Negev

Alexandre Kedar, Ahmad Amara, Oren Yiftachel

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


It is commonly claimed by Israeli authorities that Bedouins are trespassers who never acquired property or settlement rights in southern Israel/Palestine. This led to massive dispossession of Bedouins. This book sets to examine state claims by providing, for the first time, a thorough analysis of the legal geography of the Negev. It adopts critical scholarly perspectives, drawing on multidisciplinary sources from geography, law, history and the social sciences. The study defines the “Dead Negev Doctrine (DND)”—a set of legal arguments and practices founded on a manipulative use of Ottoman and British laws through which Israel constructed its own version of “'terra nullius”—the now repealed colonial doctrine denying indigenous land and political rights. The book systematically tests the doctrine, using systematic archival and geographic research, and focusing on key land cases, most notably the al-‘Uqbi claim in ‘Araqib. The analysis reveals that the DND is based on shaky, often distorted, historical and legal grounds, thereby wrongly denying land rights from the majority of the Negev Bedouins. The book then discusses the indigeneity of the Bedouins in the face of persistent state denial. It argues that international law and norms protecting indigenous peoples are highly applicable to the case of Negev Bedouins. The book then offers an overview of state and Bedouin proposals to resolve the dispute. It shows how alternative plans advanced by the Bedouins, based on the concepts of recognition and equality, provide the most promising path to resolve the protracted conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationStanford, California
PublisherStanford University Press
Number of pages410
ISBN (Electronic)9781503604582
ISBN (Print)9781503603585
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • Land tenure
  • LAW
  • Israel
  • Bedouins


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