What Public, Whose Interest: The Negev Bedouin and the Roots of Planning from Below

  • Avinoam Meir Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Keywords: Bedouin “Public”, Planning from Below, Planning Advocacy, Centrifugality, Planning Empowerment


The Bedouin submission of an independent plan in 1999 was a major milestone in their long struggle for land rights and recognition and development of forty-five unrecognized villages. Bedouin interest is counter to the interest of the State, which attempted to convince them that settling in the seven towns planned until the 1980s was the best possible avenue for modernization and development. The Bedouin are, in fact, involved in a struggle for recognition of a major “public” ignored by the State. The entire process is an evolution of “planning-from-below” that began with attempts by the Bedouin to escape the planning oligarchy of the State in the early years, by resorting to various forms of planning advocacy. It continued by practicing various forms of centrifugality as an immanent component of their culture, versus the centripetal tendencies of the State. It culminated in the generation of planning empowerment actions of various types, intended to produce spatial realities that the State cannot ignore in its planning processes of Bedouin space in the Negev.


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