Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev
The Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev, also called the Prawer Plan or the Begin-Prawer Plan was formulated in September 2011 when the Israeli government approved a controversial five-year economic development plan. One of its implications is a relocation of some 40,000–70,000 Negev Bedouin from areas not recognized by the government to government-recognized local councils. It led to 2013 Israeli protests in November.
Outline of the bill
The bill is based on a proposal developed by a team headed by Ehud Prawer, the head of policy planning in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). And this proposal, in its turn, is based on the recommendations of the committee chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Eliezer Goldberg. Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Doron Almog was appointed as the head of the staff to implement the plan to provide status for the Bedouin communities in the Negev. Minister Benny Begin has been appointed by the cabinet to coordinate public and Bedouin population comments on the issue.
According to the PMO official press release, the bill is based on four main principles:
- Providing for the status of Bedouin communities in the Negev;
- Economic development for the Negev's Bedouin population;
- Resolving claims over land ownership; and
- Establishing a mechanism for binding, implementation and enforcement, as well as timetables.
The bill is described as part of a campaign to develop the Negev; bring about better integration of Bedouin in Israeli society, and significantly reduce the economic and social gaps between the Bedouin population in the Negev and Israeli society. By contrast, Jewish families have been encouraged to settle in this part of the country to make the desert bloom and small, gated farming communities – fully serviced with water and electricity – have sprung up close to the Bedouin villages.
The government claims that the bill will expand Bedouin communities, some unrecognized communities will be recognized and receive public services, and infrastructure will be renewed, all within the framework of the Beer Sheva District masterplan. Most residents will be absorbed into the Abu Basma Regional Council and the nature of future communities, whether agricultural, rural, suburban or urban will be decided in full cooperation with the local Bedouin. For those who are to be relocated, 2/3 will receive a new residence nearby.
Further, it is indicated that the bill seeks to address the numerous land claims filed by the Bedouin, offering significant compensation in land and funds, with each claim dealt in a unified and transparent way provided by law.
A United Nations committee has called for the withdrawal of the draft law that would move 30,000 Bedouin living in the Negev to permanent, existing Bedouin communities. Furthermore, the United Nations human rights chief urged Israel to reconsider a proposed law that would result in the demolition of up to 35 Bedouin villages, displacing as many as 40,000 members of these communities from their ancestral homes. “If this bill becomes law, it will accelerate the demolition of entire Bedouin communities, forcing them to give up their homes, denying them their rights to land ownership, and decimating their traditional cultural and social life in the name of development,” Ms. Pillay said. According to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Law for the Regulation of the Bedouin Settlement in the Negev is discriminatory and would legalize racist practices. Further critics of Prawer Plan include an independent human rights organization and legal center, Adalah Adalah which works to promote and defend the rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, as well as Palestinians living in the West Bank. The center describes the Bill - which was approved by the Israeli Knesset on 25 June 2013 with 43 votes for and 40 votes against, as discriminatory. They also say that the Arab Bedouin community totally rejects of the plan.
According to Israel's Haaretz newspaper, on 12 December 2013 MK Benny Begin (one of the architects of the Prawer-Begin Plan) announced that the plan will be halted. The newspaper reported, however, that "[i]t is not clear whether the bill has been shelved or just temporarily postponed.
Resumption of Israel's destruction of Bedouin settlements
The Electronic Intifada reported that in 2014 Israel had resumed the destruction of Bedouin settlements. In a report dated 5 September 2014 and quoting the "Arabs48" website, EI stated that "'demolitions are still continuing' unabated in Hura and Um Beten, among other villages" and presented a photograph showing a demolition that had taken place in the village of al-Araqib in June 2014. The article also presented a video as well as reports of other demolitions that had occurred in "Hura and Um Beten, among other villages.".
- Cabinet Approves Plan to Provide for the Status of Communities in, and the Economic Development of, the Bedouin Sector in the Negev, PMO official site, September 11, 2012
- 'This is our land': Protests at plan to remove Bedouins from ancestral villages, The Independent, Alistair Dawber, 7 August 2013
- Al Jazeera, 13 September 2011, Bedouin transfer plan shows Israel's racism
- 3 November 2011, Bedouin's plight: "We want to maintain our traditions. But it's a dream here", The Guardian, Harriet Sherwood
- Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Doron Almog to be Appointed as Head of the Staff to Implement the Plan to Provide Status for the Bedouin Communities in the Negev, PMO official site, December 1, 2011
- Cabinet approves Prawer Report to resolve land issues in the Negev Archived December 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine., UK Task Force, September 19, 2011
- Israel's bulldozers vs the Bedouin Arabs, The Belfast Telegraph
- Haaretz, 8 July 2012, European Parliament condemns Israel's policy toward Bedouin population
- Hundreds protest Beduin relocation plan in Beersheba, The Jerusalem Post
- Israeli government halts controversial plan to resettle 30,000 Bedouin, Haaretz, December 12, 2013
- Strickland, Patrick (5 September 2014). "Palestinian Bedouin homes demolished by Israel". electronicintifada.net. Electronic Intifada. Retrieved 26 April 2015.