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LSED and the Negev: Development “in the Negev” and not “of the Negev”

What is generally referred to as “developing the Negev” has proven to be unworkable. What is required is a new approach and not “more of the same”. The have been two underlying assumptions to date regarding development in the Negev. First: the Negev is a place that requires importation of new populations. Many recent plans go further and aim to attract “high-quality” populations from the center of the country. Second: the Negev is a resource to be exploited by the country; for example as an endless source of mineral extraction and a site for situation of massive industrial projects, privately owned and nationally incentivized and funded. These assumptions produce decisions that have grave social, economic and environmental consequences. One need only glance at the development plans for residential and industrial centers to see the harmful impact inherent in them. The idea that new populations are needed owing to the weakness of the local populations not only serves to strengthen entrenched stereotypical notions but also leads to a continuing suburbanization pattern together with a further weakening of existing population centers: development towns and Bedouin villages – recognized and unrecognized alike. The second perception, of the Negev as an unclaimed empty expanse, leads to an accelerated extraction of natural resources, and relocation of army activity and situation of waste sites and polluting factories there. These policies create a false choice between the health of people and the environment and between employment opportunities.

The development assumptions informed by the LSED approach plan for development that arises in and of the local region: from the organization of cross-cultural partnerships of stakeholders with a shared interest, working to enhance local assets. Beneficial development must always be rooted in the local environment and people, with their special attributes and assets. Locality arises at the composition of social and environmental factors alongside a sense of local identity, ownership and empowerment.

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