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The Bedouin Climate convention:
Energy, Security and Protection for Bedouin communities 20.12.2023

On December 20, 2023, the first conference on "Renewable energies and security in the Bedouin society" was held under the auspices of the Climate Forum of the President's House and with the support of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Social Equality and various partners from civil society and the business sector. The conference was attended by over 300 people, including Bedouins and Jews, representatives of commercial companies, associations, government ministries and local authorities from the Negev.

Opening by  MK Dr. Dov Hanin, director of the Climate Forum, who presented the mobilization of the Bedouin society alongside the general society during the Iron Swords War, and the heavy price this society paid. Now is the time to provide appropriate solutions and allow this society to receive its rights and contribute its part to the future of the Negev and for the well-being of all its residents.

The representative of the Ministry of Environment, Mr. Adib Abu-Sirhan, presented the work of the ministry in the local Bedouin authorities and also in the rural ministry. Serihan noted that there is a long way to go in the matter of educating the population and assimilating the importance of the environmental issue in the teams of the Bedouin local authorities

Meir Bing, CEO of the Ministry of Social Equality, which is in charge of the Bedouin Development and Settlement Authority, after a tour of the Negev to study the field, came to the conference and announced the allocation of NIS 15 million to promote solar projects in schools in Bedouin society, including replacing noisy and polluting generators with solar systems. Bing reported Regarding the ministry's actions in the area of ​​protection in the Bedouin society, he said at the conference, "32 standard-issue shields have already been installed, and the ministry transferred 6 million shekels to the Home Front Command for the protection of transportation stations, and another 26 million shekels to the Bedouin local authorities for protection and emergency assessments. The office continues to work to identify needs and provide answers. The ministry sees civil society as an important partner, and supports Jewish-Arab partnership initiatives in the face of these difficult times.

Yosef Abramowitz - a long-time solar entrepreneur and chairman of Shamsuna's board of directors, together with Amal Alkom - co-director of the center, read at the conference to amend section 11 of the five-year plan for the Bedouin society, resolution 1279, in several ways:
1. Determining a special solar quota for entrepreneurs in Bedouin society until the year 2030 of about a quarter of the total quota, to give entrepreneurs and investors a horizon of certainty
2. To provide priority in connection to the electricity grid, for Bedouin projects
3. Establish an exemption from changing the land's zoning, and not obligate solar projects using agro-voltaic at least until 2030, in order to allow economic viability in an area where there is no possibility for agriculture today.
4. Exemption from building permits for public buildings that use generators, for a solar power supply system.

Veteran entrepreneur and Bedouin social activist Raad Alkeyan reviewed the various benefits of a solar project: "It is good for the country, good for the environment, good for Jewish-Arab relations and good for the economy," and called on the Israel Land Authority to allow solar projects also on claim lands, regardless of the settlement of ownership claims. In his words, Alkeyan noted the successes achieved in the construction of the solar fields in Tarabin and Abu Qureinat, and said that the Negev needs thousands more dunams of solar projects in the coming years.

Technion researchers Dr. Ariel Marriot and Dr. Reut Raina-Benderiham presented their research: "Energy poverty for renewable energy" - social, planning and technological feasibility of establishing solar facilities in Bedouin settlements in the Negev. The study deals with the planning and social feasibility of establishing a micro-grid solar facility in Bedouin villages.

Farid Mahmid, from the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, called on the planning institutions and the government to allow the Bedouins to maintain lifestyles that have been adapted to life in the desert and can be an example of living with minimal environmental impact. Mahmid presented the "microgrid" concept: "A single household, community or neighborhood that produces its own energy, supplies itself with water, treats sewage, garbage and other needs without connecting to a central grid. This innovative concept (which is also ancient) can be particularly suitable not only to the Bedouin society, but also to other settlements in the Negev, including those that will have to be rebuilt after the destruction of the seventh of October." It is necessary to come up with a common vision that allows the Bedouin society to help itself - local electricity generation is one of the significant tools for this vision.

After lunch break, there were three discussion tables on the issues at hand:

1.  Stopping the use of diesel generators in educational institutions. "Adam Teva ve Din" presented the rationale behind the appeal that’s about to be submitted, asking the court to rule that there is no justification for the use of such a harmful technology when there are better alternatives from an economic, environmental, and human point of view.

2.  Entrepreneurship on private lands and Bedouin-owned lands in the Negev. The fastest and most sustainable way to increase renewable energy production towards Israel climate goals, Climate and social justice for Bedouin communities.

3.  Micro-grid in Bedouin society - an opportunity to present the vision in greater detail and discuss possible consequences and ways to implement the concept of micro-grid in Bedouin villages.

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