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Israel: Prawer Plan postponed

Hanan Jibril

January 5, 2014

The plan to evict 40,000 Bedouin Arab homes in the Negev desert has been postponed after the Prawer Plan faced mass protests and rallies from Palestinians, Israeli activists, and concerned people around the world.
Earlier in the year Netanyahu's government proposed a bill that would demolish over a dozen villages and leave thousands of Bedouins homeless. Humiliation, discrimination and forced displacement are regular ongoing situations the Bedouins face on a daily basis. The Israeli government met mass protests all over historic Palestine. Workers in Negev held a strike. The University of Haifa banned students from waving the Palestinian flag during an anti Prawer protest. The protestors faced aggression, intimidation and brutality.
“The withdrawal of the Prawer Plan bill is a major achievement in the history of the Palestinian community in Israel,” Adalah, the legal center for Arab minority rights in Israel, stated. The Israeli government claimed the Bedouins had approved of the Prawer Plan. However, that is not the case. "The Israeli government's fortunate failure to pass this discriminatory law is an opportunity to start treating Bedouin as equal citizens," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch's Middle East director.
It came down to a difference in parliament; far-rightists opposed its offer of cash and land ownership to the Bedouin, while left-wing lawmakers planned to displace Arabs so as to expand settlements’ housings. While the plan was not completely cancelled, the Israeli state’s decision to postpone it proved the power of the masses of people.
Benny Begin, a former Israeli cabinet minister and architect of the plan, recommended that the bill be shelved. However, the Israeli prime minister agreed to “carry out the development plan for Bedouin settlements in the coming years,” suggesting that the plan would be revised rather than shelved. It is not yet clear whether the plan was shelved or postponed, but it is a victory for the Bedouins of the Negev desert who have been facing ongoing discrimination. 

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