The Prawer Plan
By Richard Bowyer
Implementation of the so-called Prawer Plan, to displace Bedouin families from their villages in the Negev, has just been approved in the Knesset (43 votes to 40). Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel (inhabitants of the Negev desert since the seventh century) are among the most vulnerable communities 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 pre-date 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 “unrecognised” and the inhabitants “trespassers on State land”, so it denies the citizens access to State infrastructure like water, electricity, sewage, education, healthcare and roads. The State deliberately withholds basic services from these villages to “encourage” the Arab Bedouin citizens to give up their ancestral land.
The Israeli government first approved the Prawer Plan (the brainchild of Ehud Prawer, former Deputy Chair of Israel’s National Security Council) in September 2011. It will result in the destruction of the “unrecognised” villages and the forced displacement of the 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens, so that forests can be planted, military bases can be built and new Jewish settlements can be established in their place. This plan was completed without consultation with the local community, and is a gross violation of the constitutional rights of the Arab Bedouin citizens to property, dignity, equality and adequate housing.
In March 2012, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on Israel to withdraw the proposed implementing legislation of the Prawer Plan, on the grounds that it was discriminatory. If Israel applied the same criteria for planning and development that exist in the Jewish rural sector, all 35 unrecognised villages would be recognised where they are.
In July 2012, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on Israel to Stop the Prawer Plan and its policies of displacement, eviction, and dispossession.
Here is a full explanation of why this plan has to be opposed by all of us in the international community.
Israel simply cannot be allowed to continue its ethnic cleansing and its contempt for UN Resolutions and international outrage.