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Having never asked, Israel's gov't 'surprised' Bedouin reject Prawer

Israeli coalition leader Yariv Levin predicted that the cabinet will likely throw out the current version of the Prawer Plan, hours after former minister and co-architect of the plan Benny Begin clarified that he never said Bedouin supported the plan, as some Knesset members originally perceived.

“I wish to again make clear that contrary to what has been claimed in recent weeks, I didn’t tell anyone that the Bedouin agreed to my plan,” Begin was quoted as saying in Israeli media. “I couldn’t say that because I didn’t show them the plan. I didn’t present the bill that I revised to any segment of the public, including the Bedouin.”

Read +972’s full coverage of the Prawer Plan

Levin thus concluded that the bill would not stand a chance of passing second and third readings in the Knesset since the majority’s support for it rested on an assumption that the Bedouin themselves had largely agreed to the terms of the bill – which Begin revealed as totally false.

Just like that.

The bill has drawn criticism from Bedouin citizens and human rights groups since it was first introduced in 2011. In recent months it has been the source of wide-scale protests across Israel and Palestine that saw heavy police suppression, which grabbed the attention of mainstream Israeli media just recently.

And just like that, all of a sudden, the current version of the bill might be scrapped.

All because one Likudnik said what others, first and foremost the Bedouin, have been saying all along: the Bedouin do not support this plan – not least because they were never consulted or involved in its formulation, and never even privy to any of its content or details, as Begin has now confirmed.

Levin made it seem as if he was concerned with what they Bedouin actually think about the government plan (that has been hidden from members of Knesset, the Bedouin themselves and the public at large). If that were the case, he could have simply asked them long ago.

When Arab MKs expressed opposition to Prawer the name of their constituents, the Right dismissed them by saying they don’t represent the majority of Bedouin. When Israeli human rights groups and international bodies criticized the plan and offered alternative plans, they were ignored or shot down. When Bedouin themselves protested, the Right cast them aside as a vocal minority at best, an invader population looking to conspire with West Bank Palestinians to take over Israeli lands at worst.

In the end, all they had to do was ask.

But the tragic irony of the whole matter is that the current bill may not go through because of pressure from the Right and/or lack of due process – the former being concerns from the the entire Right that it gives too much land to Bedouin, and the latter being the fact that the plan has been concealed even from members of the Knesset Interior Affairs Committee, as was already reported here.

While the bill being scrapped may seem like good news, it it will only be the end of the current version; a newer version will be drafted which will in all likelihood be even worse as for the rights and dignity of the Bedouin. And don’t be fooled by Levin –  he is not actually interested in what the Bedouin have to say about the plan that will permanently uproot them and alter their lives forever.

To Levin, the current version is far too generous to the Bedouin. A newer version should be drafted up and “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.”

Meanwhile, a report released Tuesday by Adalah and the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality confirms (Hebrew) that the government is knowingly denying access to water to the Bedouin citizens who live in the 35 unrecognized villages in the Negev. In other words, citizens are systematically being denied what Israel itself defines as a basic human right.

The military face behind the Prawer Plan’s civilian mask
See the Prawer Plan map Israel’s government was keeping secret
How the natives became invaders in their own homes 

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    1. Active denial of water, as opposed to higher water prices, would violate the High Court’s decision declaring water access a basic right. Access is comparative. So, if there is a non-incorporated Jewish village able to obtain water while a similarly situated Bedouin unincorporated village cannot, access has been denied. Water price as such, however, is a weaker indicator of denied access.

      If I understand the post, Begin never consulted the Bedouin in an official manner–although I suspect he did consult and promise benefits to specific Bedouin who promised they could deliver “their people.” Now all will be denied, and whatever largesse these Bedouin might have had will be gone.

      ‘To Levin, the current version is far too generous to the Bedouin. A newer version should be drafted up and “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.”’ : The internal quote shows no interest in equal treatment across race. Under this plan, the descendants of the relocated Bedouin would ever be in jeopardy of losing land use rights, implying the relocation would NOT be permanent.

      What the hell has happened to your land?

      Reply to Comment
      • Average American

        Whoever won’t agree should be forcefully placed?

        That doesn’t sound very democratic. I thought democratic was half the name of the State.

        Democracy is what we’re told here in USA is the reason we’re supposed to be buddies with the State.

        Can someone on this site explain how Levin’s statement reflects a democratic State?

        Reply to Comment
        • Danny

          Haven’t you heard that Israel is first JEWISH and only then DEMOCRATIC? Seriously, there is a new law circulating in the knesset (one of whose authors is – you guessed it – none other than Yariv Levin) which stipulates that in writing i.e. Jewish first, only then democratic.

          If use the internationally-accepted definition of a modern, progressive democracy, Israel has been such a democracy exactly 2 years out of her 65.

          The reason being is that from 1948 until 1965, ALL Arab citizens of Israel were living under martial law (meaning they could not as much as leave their towns without written authorization of the army officer in charge over their area).

          From 1967 onwards, well… no need to even go into that.

          Democracy? For Jews, maybe. Most definitely not for Arabs.

          Reply to Comment
          • BaladiAkka 1948

            Israel has never been a democracy, not even from 1966 (not 1965) to 1967. Jews have always favored by the Law of Return among other discriminatory politics: nah this is The-Only-Ethnocracy-In-The-Middle-East…

            Reply to Comment
        • Vadim

          “Whoever won’t agree should be forcefully placed?

          That doesn’t sound very democratic”

          What happens in the US to those who “don’t agree” to pay taxes? To those that “don’t agree” to follow laws?

          Lawlessness destroys democracies, not the application of the law.

          “I thought democratic was half the name of the State”

          The name of the state is Israel. Half of it is “Isr” or “ael”, not “democratic”.

          “Democracy is what we’re told here in USA is the reason we’re supposed to be buddies with the State.”

          No one tells you anything. The US has always selected its allies based on a single principle – the best of its interests. Same goes with Israel. Supporting Israel is not something done because of some goodness (or because of some Jewish world dominance)

          “Can someone on this site explain how Levin’s statement reflects a democratic State?”

          It’s very simple actually. Israel is a democratic state AND a state FOR the jews. Some people don’t like the “for the jews” part and try to change that. Levin tries to stop those attempts. It doesn’t make Israel any less democratic.

          Reply to Comment
          • Average American

            May I respond by section.

            Application of Law
            If laws are created by those governed by the law, then the governed can be held to the law. If those governed by the law had no participation in the creation of the law, then under most concepts of a democracy they can’t be held to the law and the application of the law is unjust. A good example of this is the Nuremburg “Trials”, where soldiers were held accountable retroactively for breaking a new law that didn’t exist at the time of their actions.

            USA Choosing Allies
            I appreciate the admission of what most Americans already suspected, that the relationship between Israel and USA is “strictly business” and has nothing to do with lofty concepts like democracy.

            State for the Jews
            It sounds like you are saying the democracy AND the state are for the Jews. That would exclude non-Jews from the democracy. That is not what most people would consider a democracy. An extension of this would be the state’s apparent goal of getting non-Jews out of the state, thereby neatly closing the gap of logic I mentioned, since then only Jews would be participating in the state AND in the democracy.

            May I read your response please.

            Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        “What the hell has happened to your land?”

        It was always this way. It’s just that until recently, a pretense of progressiveness and enlightenment was practiced by Israelis and their governments. However, ever since AIPAC has effectively taken control over all branches of the U.S. government, all pretense has been abandoned. We are simply seeing Israel’s real face under the mask, that’s all.

        Reply to Comment
        • Something seemed to be happening during Aharon Barak’s tenure as Chief Justice, even during the suicide bombings. But he is off the Court now, and his private utterings seem more conservative than some of his final judicial opinions.

          I don’t think even you are ready to give up totally on Israel. It is there and not going away. The Afrikaner were a closed population without natural outside support. Jews are otherwise, for reasons of history we all know. Because even in a reduced state Israel will be the Jewish homeland, its trajectory will not be that of South Africa. I cannot envision a US Congress overriding the veto of a Ronald Reagan to place sanctions on Israel, as happened to South Africa. So one must engage, and wait, until the society and polity change enough to react to what their country has done, both positively and negatively.

          So I will not condemn Israel toto, nor blame AIPAC for Israel’s deeds; these are Israel’s, no others’. I’m used to futile thought; I’ve decided to be futile here.

          Reply to Comment