Urban settlement program and land dispute resolution: The state of Israel versus the Negev Bedouin

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9 Scopus citations


Geo-political changes and the drive to higher standards of living induce growing numbers of nomad populations to give-up their special way of life. The Bedouin of the Israeli Negev are no exception. Gradually, they settled down in scattered, unauthorized clusters of tents and shacks in the open lands of the northern Negev. Governments of Israel were unsatisfied with the emerging unplanned spontaneous settlements. Consequently, governmental planning agencies came up with a program to house the Bedouin population in seven new towns. The government's initiative in establishing the towns had two main objectives. First, urban settlements were viewed as conduits for the provision of modern utilities and social services that were very hard to supply and distribute among the many small and scattered spontaneous settlements. Second, Bedouin put forward claims over much of the lands they arguably were using in their former way of life as nomads. Although the claims were not - and could not be - supported by legal documents, the government offered the Bedouin subsidized developed urban land in exchange of their claims over the undeveloped dry desert lands. Currently, more than 60 per cent of the Negev Bedouin population reside in the seven planned urban settlements. Nevertheless, only a small proportion of the land claims has been settled. This paper argues that the attempt to achieve both goals via the urban settlement program was too ambitious. While the goal of providing better services in urban areas has been partially accomplished, the goal of removing the claims over the lands is far from being resolved. The paper argues that the link between the two goals should be reconsidered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-561
Number of pages11
JournalGeo Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 7 Dec 1999


  • Land reclamation
  • Nomad population
  • Urban planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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