Defend the Bedouin, stop Prawer Plan

Submitted by Matthew on 18 September, 2013 - 10:08

In the last few months there have been many protests in Israel over government plans to remove tens of thousands of Israeli Bedouins from their ancestral villages and land.

Named after prime ministerial advisor Ehud Prawer, the “Prawer Plan” is the Israeli government’s attempt to “resolve” the disputed ownership of land currently inhabited by Bedouin Arabs, primarily in the Negev desert.

The government claims that residents will be compensated and provided with alternative accommodation in specially designed towns. But many Bedouin and human rights organisations denounce the plan as discriminatory and an attempt to clear the region for Jewish settlement.

The Israeli Bedouin have experienced decades of repression and displacement. They used to be nomadic. Ottoman, British and Israeli land expropriation forced them into stationary settlements.

When the Bedouin in the Negev largely sided with the Arabs against the Israelis in the 1948 war, Israeli forces further repressed and displaced the them, leading many to flee to surrounding countries. Most of those that remained were subsequently relocated to restricted desert areas under martial law.

Around 170,000 Bedouins live in the Negev today. Many live in the outskirts of towns and cities, but tens of thousands live in villages and farms which the Israeli government refuses to recognise or to provide with proper infrastructure.

The fear is that if the Prawer Plan goes ahead the Bedouin will be forcibly uprooted once again.

Left-wing activists and Arab-Israelis question why, since the Bedouin are formerly Israeli citizens, the government is entitled to clear them from their homes.

They fear that space is being cleared for further settlement by Jewish Israelis.

In places like Um Hiran, right-wing organisations have already been setting up temporary accommodation near the villages set to be demolished.

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