On 24 June 2013, the Israeli Knessetapprovedthe discriminatory Prawer-Begin Bill, with 43 votes for and 40 votes against, for the mass expulsion of the Arab Bedouin community in the Naqab (Negev) desert in the south of Israel. If fully implemented, thePrawer-Begin Planwill result in the destruction of 35 "unrecognized"Arab Bedouin villages, the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel, and the dispossession of their historical lands in the Naqab. Despite the Arab Bedouin community's complete rejection of the plan and strong disapproval from theinternational communityand human rights groups, the Prawer Plan is happening now.
The Prawer-Begin Bill is an unacceptable proposition that entrenches the state’s historic injustice against its Bedouin citizens. Adalah and our NGO partners have been challenging the Prawer Plan before courts, government authorities and the international community, but we need your help to stop what would be the largest single act of forced displacement of Arab citizens of Israel since the 1950s!
Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel, inhabitants of the Naqab (Negev) desert since the seventh century, are the most vulnerable community in Israel. For over 60 years, the indigenous Arab Bedouin have faced a state policy of displacement, home demolitions and dispossession of their ancestral land. Today, 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens live in 35 villages that either predate the establishment of the State in 1948, or were created by Israeli military order in the early 1950s. The State of Israel considers the villages “unrecognized” and the inhabitants “trespassers on State land,” so it denies the citizens access to state infrastructure like water, electricity, sewage, education, health care and roads. The state deliberately withholds basic services from these villages to “encourage” the Arab Bedouin citizens to give up their ancestral land. If Israel applied the same criteria for planning and development that exist in the Jewish rural sector, all 35 unrecognized villages would be recognized where they are.
In September 2011, the Israeli government approved the Prawer Plan, the brainchild of former Deputy Chair of the National Security Council, Mr. Ehud Prawer. The Prawer Plan will result in the destruction of the unrecognized villages and the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens. This plan was completed without consultation of the local community, and is a gross violation of the constitutional rights of the Arab Bedouin citizens to property, dignity, equality, adequate housing, and freedom to choose their own residence.
Prawer is Happening Now
Despite complete rejection of the plan by the Arab Bedouin, and strong disapproval from the international community, Prawer is happening now. More than 1,000 houses were demolished in 2011 alone, and civil society observed the same practices in 2012. Since Prawer was announced, the government announced plans that will displace over 10,000 people and plant forests, build military centers, and establish new Jewish settlements in their place.
The Prawer Plan is today being turned into an Israeli law. On6 May 2013, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved the proposed “Law for the Regulation of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev – 2013” (“the Prawer-Begin Bill”, after recommendations by Minister Benny Begin were included). On 24 June 2013, the Knesset approved the Prawer-Begin Bill with 43 votes for and 40 votes against. The bill will now be sent to the Committee for Interior Affairs and Environment to be prepared for the second and third readings.
The international community has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the Prawer Plan. In March 2012, the UN Committee on the Elimination for Racial Discrimination called on Israel to withdraw the proposed implementing legislation of the Prawer Plan, on the grounds that it was discriminatory. In July 2012, the European Parliament passed a historic resolution calling on Israel to Stop the Prawer Plan and its policies of displacement, eviction, and dispossession.
Adalah calls on the Israeli government to:
Cancel the Prawer Plan
Recognize the “unrecognized villages” and the land claims of the indigenous Arab Bedouin community
Halt home demolitions and forced evictions
Engage in meaningful dialogue with the Arab Bedouin community and the Arab political leadership to justly resolve the land claims
Invest in greater health, education, and employment opportunities for Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel