European Parliament Calls for Withdrawal of Prawer Plan, Linking Forced Displacement of Arab Bedouin in Naqab to Israel’s Policies in the OPT
(Beer el-Sabe, Israel) On 5 July 2012, the European Parliament (EP) passed a historic resolution (291 to 274, with 39 abstentions) strongly condemning Israeli policies in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including forced displacement and home demolitions. The resolution, proposed by the Socialists and Democrats (SD) Group in the EP, is particularly noteworthy for its inclusion of Israeli government policies in Israel against the Arab Bedouin citizens in the Naqab (Negev). The EP call on Israel to withdraw the government-approved Prawer Plan is the result of months of intensive advocacy by Adalah and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) in Brussels, including a briefing by Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara before the EP’s Working Group on the Middle East in June 2012 in Strasbourg.
Attorney Bishara led a one-hour discussion before the EP on the historical and legal framework of the Israeli government’s policy of displacement and dispossession of the Arab Bedouin in the Naqab, and argued that the Prawer Plan violates their constitutional rights to property, dignity and equality. Following her presentation, the EP Following her presentation, the EP voted to take urgent steps against the Prawer Plan.
The challenges facing Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel have never before been addressed in an EP resolution. The Director of Adalah’s office in the Naqab, Dr. Thabet Abu Rass notes that, “Achieving recognition by the European Parliament that the Israeli government practices the same policies of displacement and dispossession against Palestinian citizens of Israel as it does against Palestinians living under occupation is a tremendous step forward.” In relevant part, the resolution states that:
[…] Q. Whereas Arab Bedouins are indigenous people leading a sedentary and traditionally agricultural life on their ancestral lands and are seeking formal and permanent recognition of their unique situation and status; whereas Arab Bedouin communities, threatened by Israeli policies undermining their livelihoods and including forced transfer, are a particularly vulnerable population both in the occupied Palestinian Territory and in the Negev;
[…] 12. [The European Parliament] Calls for the protection of the Bedouin communities of the West Bank and in the Negev, and for their rights to be fully respected by the Israeli authorities, and condemns any violations (e.g. house demolitions, forced displacements, public service limitations); calls also, in this context, for the withdrawal of the Prawer Plan by the Israeli Government;
The EP joins the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, who in March 2012, also urged the Israeli government to withdraw the Prawer Plan’s implementing legislation on the grounds that it was discriminatory and would “legalize the ongoing policy of home demolitions and forced displacement of the indigenous Bedouin communities.”
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