UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. human rights chief is criticizing an Israeli plan to demolish dozens of Bedouin villages and move up to 40,000 Arab residents to Israeli-built settlements.
High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says that a bill working its way through the Knesset would wipe out legitimate land claims for the Bedouins in the Negev desert in southern Israel
Israel says the moves are necessary to provide basic services that many nomadic Bedouins lack.
Pillay said Thursday that “As citizens of Israel, the Arab Bedouins are entitled to the same rights to property, housing and public services as any other group in Israel.”
The bill offers Bedouins limited compensation on the condition that they move to one of seven officially recognized urban Bedouin townships the Israeli government has created.