Adalah and Ben-Gurion University Host Expert Roundtable on Forced Displacement in Israel and the OPT
(Beer el-Sabe) On 11 September 2012, Adalah, together with the Geography Department at Ben-Gurion University hosted an expert roundtable discussion entitled “Considering Forced Displacement: Shared Human Rights Challenges, Strategies and Solutions.” The roundtable was convened on the first anniversary of the Israeli government’s approval of the Prawer Plan, which could forcibly displace up to 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel living in unrecognized villages in the Naqab. The discussion, with over thirty (30) representatives of local and international civil society organizations, academics, and advocates working in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), drew on shared experiences of advocating against displacement on both sides of the Green Line.
Participants assessed case studies of displacement from communities in the Naqab (Negev), the South Hebron Hills, and near Jerusalem. The discussion was followed by the introduction of a new a joint-project of Activestills and The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions documenting the continuing campaign of internal displacement in Israel/ OPT.
The participants also considered planning solutions to displacement, using the Alternative Plan developed by civil society organizations for community-based solutions based on existing settlements. Professor Oren Yiftachel, of the Department of Geography at Ben-Gurion University and the lead planner for the Alternative Plan noted that “planning, by its very nature, is about ‘place-making’ and therefore is a powerful tool that can effectively answer the needs and the requirements of communities threatened by displacement.” Participants also presented alternative plans in the OPT and discussed the unique challenges for halting forced displacements.
The closing remarks were delivered by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), and reflected the interest of participants in follow-up discussions, and continued information exchange.