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Bill to displace Israel's Bedouin to be scrapped, Prawer architect says

The Bill for Arranging Bedouin Settlement in the Negev, more commonly known as the Prawer Plan, has been scrapped, former minister and drafter of the plan Benny Begin announced at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Thursday (Haaretz report).

Palestinians and Bedouins from the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev Desert in a mass solidarity demonstration in Rahat against the “Prawer Plan”, June 28, 2013. (Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

The bill, first introduced in 2011, is a government plan to forcibly relocate some 40,000 Bedouin citizens living in dozens of “unrecognized” villages in Israel’s Negev desert, which the government has never agreed to recognize or provide services to. The plan has drawn heavy criticism from both Bedouin citizens and human rights groups. In recent months it has also been the source of wide-scale protests across Israel and Palestine. The police suppression and violence that took place at those protests grabbed the attention of mainstream Israeli media.

Read +972′s full coverage of the Prawer Plan

At a press conference held at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, Begin said: “Right and Left, Jews and Arabs, joined together – at the expense of many Bedouin who are in crisis – to rile things up to a boiling point for their own political gain.”

Begin condemned all those who opposed the bill, adding, “we did the best we could, but sometimes you must face reality.”

Begin said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted his recommendation to permanently terminate the current version of the bill, after citing the undeniable opposition from across the political spectrum.

While today’s news will at the very least delay the State’s plan to implement the largest displacement a Palestinian population since 1967, there is little reason for celebration. It it will only be the end of the current version, which  was in jeopardy mostly due to concerns from right-wing MKs that it was “too generous” to the Bedouin.  It is probable a revised bill will be drafted that will in all likelihood not be any better as far as Bedouin claims. There were many flaws to both the content and form of the bill, but by far the most blatant was the fact that no one from the Bedouin community has been consulted or involved in the process – even after an alternative master plan was submitted.

Earlier this week, coalition leader Yariv Levin specified inferred as much when he said that a revised bill should be drafted and that “whoever won’t agree should be forcefully placed in the areas allotted to Bedouin. The agreement to join the generous outline should be limited in time, and it should be determined that the lands would only be leased to the Bedouins, not registered with the Land Authority as their property.”

In response to the announcement, Rawia Aburabia, an attorney with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and a Bedouin citizen, stated that the Israeli government now “has an opportunity to conduct real and honest dialogue with the Negev Bedouin community and its representatives. The Negev Bedouin seek a solution to the problem of the unrecognized villages, and a future in Israel as citizens with equal rights.”

Related:
Having never asked, Israel’s gov’t ‘surprised’ Bedouin reject Prawer
The military face behind the Prawer Plan’s civilian mask
See the Prawer Plan map Israel’s government was keeping secret 

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    COMMENTS

    1. Kolumn9

      Expect the implementation of this plan anyway, but without the vast amounts of cash that was going to be spent on trying to pay the Bedouin for land that they were squatting on.

      Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        “land that they were squatting on”

        They were living on this land long before your ancestors even heard about Israel/Palestine.

        I expect this plan to never be implemented because of the disastrous PR it has already done to Israel and will continue to do in the future should the government be stupid enough to try it again.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Hahaha. They were in Arabia until at least the 19th century when the decline in Ottoman power allowed them to move into the Negev and take over. This part isn’t even disputed.

          Then they made land claims that neither the Ottomans, nor the British ever accepted. This part isn’t even disputed.

          Then they got moved by the Israeli government from one place to another in the 1950s while they were still nomads. Now they claim the land that the State moved them to be their ‘ancestral land’. This part isn’t even disputed.

          Then in the past 30 years they have grown numerous and have set up numerous sprawling encampments that continue to grow through the theft of state land. This part isn’t even disputed.

          So.. Yeah, illegal squatters. Their days of unchecked expansion are done. Without this plan the issues that their land theft has caused will now get piecemeal treatment, on much less generous terms. The sad part is that the Bedouin aren’t even the ones that torpedoed the plan. The plan was torpedoed by the various anti-Israel activists among the Israeli Arabs who look for any cause to express their fundamental hatred of Israel.

          It will be done gradually. A military base here, a military base there. A bulldozed house here, and another one there. A Jewish village here and another one there. A highway here and another one there. Before you know it, it is 20 years later and the Bedouin that are illegally settling state land are constrained and pushed in on all sides. The amazing thing about the world is the extremely limited lifespan of global outrage, especially one fed by the outright lies that accompanied the most recent protests.

          Reply to Comment
          • “Their days of unchecked expansion are done. Without this plan the issues that their land theft has caused…” Sounds familiar, somehow. As does this:

            “It will be done gradually. A military base here, a military base there. A bulldozed house here, and another one there. A Jewish village here and another one there. A highway here and another one there. Before you know it, it is 20 years later and…”

            Reply to Comment
          • Average American

            It sounds like it’s possible that no one in the Israeli government, and no one in the Jewish population, really cares who was there first, that’s just another useful smoke screen, because Israel is going to do it anyway, whatever is necessary, however long it takes, and all things are permitted to get it done?

            If that’s true, it sounds like something beyond pride in your nation, beyond pride in your people’s history. It sounds like an attitude of superiority.

            If true, I’m curious where that attitude came from. Is it taught? Does it come from a book? Can you tell me how you came to believe it?

            Reply to Comment
          • I’m doubtful that I should say anything here, but not all Israelis think identically. True, a national corporate right mentality dominates effective decision at the moment. But there is a struggle for the rule of law brewing, and it includes Bedouin land claims and resource access. I have a guess as to how far the best outcome for the Bedouin who want to stay where they are could go, but that’s not important here. Yes, the Prawer Plan and State reaction to protest does echo occupation logic. But if that logic can be checked anywhere it will be in Israel proper old school. Talking about a single mind set is like talking about a similar Arab mind set, something you see quite often in comments to this site.

            The question is what social, cultural, legal forces can change things, not into a utopia, but still changed, over the medium to long term. This is one reason why I think the Detention Camp case is so important. It’s ultimate outcome will shape what the Court might be able to do (or not do) here as well. Which is not to say the Court would or could be a universal savior; everything in incremental now, sometimes in rather small steps.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      “Hahaha. They were in Arabia until at least the 19th century”

      Arabia, huh? How about Narnia? They just miraculously appeared one day through a closet door. That makes about as much sense as your childish ignorant arguments.

      “It will be done gradually. A military base here, a military base there. A bulldozed house here, and another one there.”

      You’re probably right about that. Israel is nothing if not cowardly, preferring to to act with a wink when they realize their bluster will cost them dearly. Let me tell you though that I, and pretty much every other anti-Israel activist (and we are growing by the day) will continue to put the pressure on your racist apartheid state until it breaks once again.

      Perhaps the Bedouin will start fighting back as well, for example by refusing to enlist in Israel’s army. Perhaps the Druze will join in and completely shake up Israel’s cards.

      And perhaps, just perhaps, the U.S. will finally decide that it cannot protect Israel anymore in the U.N.S.C. I am waiting for that day.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        The Ottoman Empire kept the Bedouin out until the 19th century when it went into decline following the intervention of the French and the rise of Egypt under Muhammad Ali. When the Ottomans control over the area got weaker the Bedouin moved in from Arabia to take over territory which they used for grazing and raiding the settled people. None of this is disputed.

        Narnia is where the ‘Palestinians’ are from.

        Israel will deal with the issue of the Bedouin rampantly stealing state land. There is really no alternative. It will either be done with the cooperation of the Bedouin or without it. Given the apparent inability of the Bedouin, in their own best interests, to bypass the anti-Israeli ravings of the Israeli Arab political leadership it appears that it will be without.

        You and every other ‘anti-Israel activist’ have been doing a wonderful job at preventing Israeli settlements in areas where Israeli sovereignty is disputed. In the Negev there is no sovereignty dispute. Israel does not need the US veto to deal with the issue of the Bedouin in the Negev. The Russians and the Chinese will veto any resolution that deals with such domestic disputes. It will never be brought to a vote at the UNSC.

        Reply to Comment
        • mike panzone

          “israel will deal with the issue of the Bedouin rampantly stealing state land”

          many would say that they can’t be guilty of stealing state land, if the establishment of the state in question was illegitimate in the first place

          Reply to Comment
        • andrew r

          “Narnia is where the ‘Palestinians’ are from.”

          It’s really adorable how Zionists call their race enemies “primitive”, but when it comes to discussing human habitation of Palestine they’re the first ones to throw basic anthropology out the window.

          Reply to Comment
        • miriam

          “Narnia is where the ‘Palestinians’ are from.”: this is your true face, Kolumn, we know that.

          As I wrote you 2 weeks ago, the Nabi Musa festival, just 1 example among others, was a clear expression of a proto-national cohesion that you could not find “over the border North, South or East”.
          Most of the Arab Palestinians that many externals (you included?) try to erase were, in reality, people deeply rooted in what Khayr al-Dīn al-Ramli (1585-1671), an influential Islamic lawyer from Ramla, defined in the XVII century “Filastīn bilādunā” (“Palestine our country”); the fact that it was not a separate political and administrative entity did not make al-Ramli’s “Filastīn” less real.

          Reply to Comment
    3. ayla

      K-9, It’s a good thing you’re not a journalist; you’d have a very hard time with the fact-checking element.

      Reply to Comment

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