Ministerial Committee on Legislation Approves the Prawer-Begin Plan
The approval of the Prawer-Begin Plan on Monday, May 6th, 2013 by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation marks a drastic step towards institutionalizing the State’s discriminatory and racist policies regarding the Negev-Naqab. If implemented, this will result in the Negev becoming an area “as clean as possible of Bedouin,” depriving the Arab Bedouin of their lands and their traditional agriculture. The proposed Plan will result in the disintegration of their communal life and their forced concentration to under-resourced, urban townships. This will profoundly affect their capacity for self-development and is contrary to the traditional, agricultural character of a significant portion of Bedouin society. The law signifies the continued Judaisation of the area, isolating the Arab-Bedouin and effectively depriving them of their civil rights. It will prevent the development of the Negev for all its residents, including its Jewish residents.
The Committee’s decision, in fact, gives the go ahead for the forced evacuation of thousands of citizens and the destruction of many villages. This stands in contradiction to the recommendation of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2011), which called upon Israel to desist with the forced evacuation of Bedouin inhabitants and to cease the demolitions of their homes in the unrecognized villages. It is also contrary to the recommendation of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (2012), which called on the State of Israel to shelve the Prawer Plan for the Regulation of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev (2011), which is the basis of the law just passed by the Ministerial Committee.
Furthermore, the Ministerial Committee made a number of conditions that could make this already problematic Plan even more devastating for the Bedouin population. These are the following:
• The Plan will incorporate a map, specifying which settlements
will be added to the existing villages and the locations of areas
of land compensation.
• The timeline for implementation will be reduced from five to
• A Ministerial Committee will be appointed with the res-
ponsibility of monitoring the program and will receive periodic
reports on its implementation.
• An additional 250 police will be appended to the
existing forces that are already tasked with
implementing the plan.
These terms were dictated by extreme Right-wing members of the Committee and the Government. They demonstrate the political interests underlying the legislative process and expose the intent to supervise, centralize and direct the Prawer-Begin Plan. By decreasing the timeline for expelling tens of thousands of citizens from their lands, limiting the Bedouins’ property rights and displaying a map designed to ensure that “the Bedouin will not be given too much land” while also increasing the police force responsible for the expulsion, the Committee has created a program that will maximize Jewish ownership of Negev lands without any consideration of the Bedouin community’s needs, civil rights and connection to the land.
The State has Begun to Implement the Prawer-Begin Plan Before Knesset's Approval
Thursday, May 16th, 2013 (Beer Sheva): A large police force and the Israel Land Administration (ILA) barricaded the unrecognized village of Atir in the northern Negev, carried out demolitions in the village, and uprooted many trees.
7:30 am: A large police force composed of hundreds of police officers and supervisors accompanied by demolitionists working for the Israel Land Administration arrived in the unrecognized village of Atir, near the village of Hura community. First, the authority closed off community access roads and put up barriers. Then, escorted by a heavy police force, they brought in demolition tools. The authority went on to destroy eight houses and seven other structures. They then uprooted 470 olive trees belonging to the villagers.
Atir has existed in its current location since the beginning of the 1950s. According to the Prawer-Begin Plan, recently approved by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, but not yet approved by the Knesset, the land on which Atir Village is located will be evacuated and forested by the Jewish National Fund. Though this Plan is not yet finally approved, and although it authorizes that people who are evacuated be contacted prior to the demolitions and offered compensation agreements, the action that took place today indicates that the police and ILA have already begun to act independently of the legislative process.
MK Merav Michaeli was present during the demolition along with representatives of NCF. MK Michaeli met with the villagers following the demolitions and said the following:
This event has left women and children without a home
and without hope for the future. Instead of sitting with
the Bedouin community to find a good solution for all,
the government continues to act in violence and endanger
all residents of the Negev.
Upcoming Vote on Prawer-Begin in Knesset
On Monday, May 27th
, the Knesset will vote on the Prawer-Begin Plan. This is will be the most critical vote on this bill yet. We ask all of our supporters—both in Israel and abroad—to employ every advocacy tactic at their disposal to urge the Knesset to reject this bill.