Abu Basma Regional Council (Hebrew: מועצה אזורית אבו בסמה, Moatza Ezorit Abu Basma, Arabic: مجلس إقليمي أبو بسمة, Majlis Iqlimi Abu Basma) is a regional council covering several Bedouin villages in the northwestern Negev desert of Israel.
The council was formed as a result of Government Resolution 881 of 29 September 2003, known as the "Abu Basma Plan", which stated the need to establish seven new Bedouin settlements in the Negev. The council was established by the Interior Ministry on 28 January 2004. At the time, the regional council had a population of approximately 30,000 Bedouins and a total land area of 34,000 dunams, making it the most populous regional council in the South District but the smallest in jurisdiction. The council also has the highest rate of unemployment in Israel.
The regional council runs 24 elementary schools (of which 21 are based in temporary accommodation) and three high schools. Due to the lack of provision of sufficient high school education facilities, students are sent to schools in surrounding towns such as Kuseife and Shaqib al-Salam, and 16% of children drop out of the schooling system at the end of elementary school.
There is considerable controversy within the Bedouin community regarding the establishment of this council. The Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages (RCUV) argues that while the creation of the Abu Basma Regional Council involves the recognition of villages that were previously under threat of demolition, it has involved the renunciation of considerable swathes of village land claims in exchange. The RCUV is concerned that the creation of Abu Basma sets a precedent for the transformation of unrecognized villages into urban ghettos by limiting their boundaries to the area of inhabitation and zoning most Bedouin grazing grounds; this type of de jure recognition has not entailed the introduction of business districts or de facto recognition through equitable provision of education, health, transportation and municipal waste services services long denied to, and demanded, by the Bedouin community. The RCUV also worries that, as the council covers the region with the largest population but the least jurisdiction, the Abu Basma council's current delimitations will strangle future village development necessary to accommodate population growth. The RCUV instead recommends the recognition of all unrecognized villages and their land claims, since "the entire land under dispute is no more than 2% of the Negev lands. The Bedouins are more than 25% of the Negev population."
Bedouins were denied the right to hold their first local council election after the Israeli parliament passed a law at the last minute to cancel the scheduled December 2009 ballot. The new law gave the government the power to postpone elections to the Abu Basma regional council until the interior ministry deems the local Bedouin ready to run their own affairs. Taleb a-Sana, a Bedouin member of Israel’s Knesset, wrote to the speaker warning that “it is not possible to have democracy without elections”.