Making the Bedouin Towns Work
Author: Harvey Lithwick
June 16, 2002
In the past half century the Bedouins in Israel’s Negev have undergone a rapid transformation from nomadism to a sedentary rural lifestyle. In recent years, the Government of Israel has pursued a deliberate policy of moving a large number of them into seven towns near Beer Sheva.
This paper considers this urbanization process, the limited success of the policies that were pursued and proposals for a strategic urban development approach that would begin to rectify the situation.
Any plan for the Bedouin must be viewed as an integral part of a larger plan for the Negev as a whole. A region of this size should be an important contributor to the national economy. But fragmented into a number of dysfunctional towns and detached rural settlements, it remains a drag on the economy, kept in a state of impoverishment and dependency by a steady inflow of non-productive investments and personal transfers.