Israeli Bedouin – we do not want your plan for us
This post contains the campaign material of the Prawer Shall Not Pass group of young Bedouin, followed by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs belated insistence that the Prawer-Begin plans are in the best interests of the Bedouin.
Young Palestinians demonstrate against Prawer plan, East Jerusalem, July 15, 2013. Photo by Ahmad Al-Bazz / Activestills.org
Saturday, 30 November 2013
Israeli Embassy on Kensington High Street opposite W8 5ED (near W8 4QB)
Alert: Call to Action
On 24th of June, the Israeli Knesset approved the Prawer-Begin plan, which if implemented will result in the destruction of more than 35 unrecognized villages in Al-Naqab and the forced expulsion and confinement of more than 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins. The Prawer plan is the largest Israeli land-grab since 1948. It epitomizes the nature of Israel’s policy; Israeli-Jewish demographic expansion and Palestinian-Arab demographic containment.
The unrecognized villages of Atteer and Um al-Hiran Photo by Albert Denkberg
The International community has repeatedly called on Israel to halt the implementation of the Prawer Plan due to its discriminatory nature and the severe infringement it causes on the rights of Palestinian Bedouins in Al-Naqab. The UN committee on the elimination of Racial Discrimination called on Israel to withdraw the proposed legislation of the Prawer Plan. Also, in 2012, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on Israel to stop the Prawer plan and its policies of forced displacement and dispossession.
Injustice, humiliation and forced displacement are a recurring theme in Palestine’s history. This is lesson that we as a group of youth take to the heart. We will oppose, resist and work against the continuous assault that our communities, across Palestine face. Therefore, we launched the “Prawer will not pass” campaign with an eye to preventing this plan to be yet another chapter in Palestine’s long and tragic history.
Opposing the Prawer Plan is to oppose ethnic cleansing, displacement and confinement in the 21st century.
Join us by organizing marches, protests, sending letters to those with positions of influence in your country or community, by doing whatever you can, in order to force Israel to stop the Prawer plan.
Join us on the 30th of Nov. in saying “Prawer shall not Pass”.
For more information, please contact us:
The Prawer Won’t Pass Campaign: Who We Are?
In March of 2013, the popular campaign opposing the Israel’s newest large-scale ethnic cleansing plan, the Prawer-Begin plan was launched. The Prawer-Begin plan, if implemented, will result in the destruction of over 35 unrecognized Palestinian Bedouin villages, the forced displacement of more than 70,000 Palestinian- Bedouins, and the appropriation of 800,000 Dunams (approx.197684 acres) of Palestinian land in al- Naqab. It is without a doubt the single biggest ethnic cleansing campaign Israel has launched since 1948.
One of the Bedouin objections to the Begin plan is that they will be moved to impoverished towns such as Hura, above; police in search of a teenager in Hura.
Our campaign was initiated by a group of youth from al-Naqab who sought to bring forth the human story behind the headlines and showcase the detrimental impact of the Prawer-Begin Plan on the lives of Palestinian-Bedouins. The campaign received a positive response from the local community and based on that, the decision was taken that the time was ripe for a larger more organized mobilization on the ground.
With few resources, but with patience, commitment and determination we managed to engage with al- Naqab’s community and with wider Palestinian community. We managed to link the yearly commemoration of Al-Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948, to the prospect of another Nakba in al-Naqab. As with any relatively successful campaign, events took a life of there own.
Today, the popular mobilization has reached new heights with activists from across Palestine joining us and becoming part and parcel of our efforts. The 15th of July general strike and protests was another milestone in our concerted efforts. Thousands of Palestinians from Ramallah, Hebron, Haifa, Jaffa, Akka, Al-Naqab as well as our supporters from across the world joined in opposing the Prawer-Begin plan. 15th of July was shortly followed by another major mobilization on August 1st. Again, Palestinians from across the political and social spectrum mobilized on the ground sending a strong and unequivocal message to the apartheid government of Israel that “Prawer Won’t Pass”.
Protestors in Be’er Sheva calling for the Israeli government to scrap the Begin-Prawer plan that would forcibly relocate tens of thousands of Negev Bedouins. Photo by Activestills.org.
We are a group of youth, united by our opposition to the continuous injustices facing the Palestinian people. We are united by our opposition to Israel’s policy, which continuously violates our rights as the indigenous people on this land. We believe that our rights cannot be forsaken and that through concerted, wellorganized and sustainable mobilization we can and will enshrine our inherent rights to our land.
We refuse to be dislodged, displaced, disposed or abnegated from the source of our livelihood, our land. Our bond with our land is eternal; it is rooted, absolute and non-negotiable.
Rahat, the largest Bedouin concentration, pop. 55,000, and only Bedouin city, in Israel, in the northern Negev. One of the seven destinations for displaced Bedouin. A strain of the wild polio virus was detected in its sewage system earlier this year.
Among us is Rateb, who witnessed the demolishment of his own home and who also saw his brother’s home smashed repeatedly on the hands of Israeli apartheid authorities. Rateb paid dearly, not only in the material loss he suffered, but also in
memories he was denied of making. We have with us, Hind, who painfully helped a young couple, clear their home from cherished objects, before it was shattered into unrecognizable pieces. For Hind and Rateb and for thousands of others silence is not an option. Silence is to accept the unacceptable and to legitimize the illegitimate.
Al-Naqab is Palestinian, Arab and free. Al-Naqab is part and parcel of our identity as a Palestinian collective.
We seek al-Naqab that is safe for its residents, where the indigenous and rightful owners are secure and prosperous. We seek al-Naqab were the melancholy of the moment is shattered by glimpses of hope, of those from across Palestine and the world, still united, still free and still committed in taking upon themselves the task of preventing a grave injustice from occurring.
This is who we are! Join us in being part of the hope.
Join the Prawer Won’t Pass Campaign…
Below: citizens of Israel, a Bedouin platoon in the IDF, fighting for Israel, 1949.
Since Israel’s inception, the Palestinians in historic Palestine have experienced repeated and successive attempts at dislodging them from their own land. A mix of methods, plans, and other creative instruments – many of which rise to a flagrant and blatant violation of International Law- were used by Israel to achieve one of its foremost objectives; maintaining Jewish demographic superiority on the expense of the indigenous Palestinian citizens and non-citizens of Israel.
The Prawer-Begin Plan is no different than the expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. House demolitions in Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley, Galilee or in Al-Naqab serve the same objective of isolating, containing and confining Palestinian presence, allowing for more Israeli land-grab and ensuring that the Palestinian ‘demographic bomb’, in the words of Israeli analysts, does not explode. This is to say the least discriminatory, racist and vile and has no place in the 21st century. The Prawer-Begin Plan is only one of the most recent examples of the slow ethnic cleansing process, we as Palestinians collectively face. Therefore, Prawer must not Pass.
The Palestinian Bedouins have faced repeated attempts with the aims of dispossessing and uprooting them from their land. However, only recently, on May 6th, 2013 did the Israeli government approve what has become known as the Prawer Plan, otherwise called the “Law for regulation of Bedouin settlement in al- Naqab”.
Photo of the chief of Bedouin herders, probably Palestine 1880s, by French photographer Felix Bonfils. This was at the beginning of the great European romantic swell about Arab desert tribesmen which strongly affected the British and French upper class.
The following are facts and information with regard to Palestinian Bedouins and the impact of the Prawer Plan:
• Arabs of the Naqab are not itinerants, but are the indigenous peoples of al-Naqab.
• According to many historical references the Palestinian Bedouins first settled in al-Naqab around the 7th century.
• As specified in the Ottoman archives, Bedouin people have cultivated lands in al-Naqab area since the 15th century.
• 90% of al-Naqab’s Palestinian population was forcibly displaced during the Nakbah in 1948. Most of those ethnically cleansed were destined to become refugees in Jordan. Those that remained were relocated to an area called Al-Sayyaj, which constitutes no more than 7% of the total al-Naqab area.
• Contrary to the stereotypical image of the Bedouin lifestyle, studies reveal that Palestinian Bedouins settled in villages more than a century ago.
• Remnants of some villages in al-Naqab can still be found and show signs of a stable rural life.
• Bedouin Arabs are considered an indigenous people under the charter of the United Nations.
• According to article 8 of the charter of the United Nations on Indigenous Peoples, indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture. The charter also affirms that states shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of any action, which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their land territories or resources; or any form of forced transfer or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights.
• United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay decried the Prawer Plan and proclaimed it to be a gross human rights violation.
• James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, who was denied entry into Israel, describes the policy of demolitions as means by which Israel maintains Jewish presence throughout al-Naqab – a motivation racially
discriminatory on its own.
Estimates of various NGOs and experts in the field of planning and construction indicate that the Prawer Plan will result in the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouin citizens of Israel.
• The estimates for the anticipated number of displaced persons as propagated by the Prime Minister’s Office are close to 30,000. But this number is deceptive to say the least, for it is expected that many more, or tens of thousands will be forcibly relocated “tens or hundreds of meters”- in the words of Minister Begin, from their current place of residence. This so-called relocation actually translates to ethnic cleansing.
• Gaining village recognition doesn’t guarantee maintaining structures, a large number of inhabitants on the village outskirts will be forced to relocate to the village center.
The Prawer Plan threatens to forcibly remove and displace 35 Arab villages in the Naqab.
• The so-called planning process taking place under the proposed law will result in the displacement of tens of villages and thousands of Palestinian Bedouin citizens. On the other hand, the government intends to establish new Jewish settlements, parts of which are due to be built on the ruins of Palestinian Bedouin villages.
The Prawer Plan is slated to confiscate about 600,000 dunams of land from their Arab owners.
• The overall size of al-Naqab area is 13,000,000 dunams, Bedouin Arabs claim ownership for land totaling 900,000 dunams, namely 6% of the total land area of al Naqab, whereas they comprise over 30% of the entire population.
• In accordance with the law, the remaining Palestinians making up 30% of the population will be concentrated into only 1% of the land in this area.
The Prawer Plan violates the constitutional rights of Palestinian Bedouins and concentrates powers, authorities and potency to impel arbitrary proceedings in the hands of the government representative.
• The Prawer Plan imposes severe and unbalanced sanctions on anyone who doesn’t comply with the law within a limited period of time.
• Noncompliance with the law will be punishable with 2 year imprisonment, a punishment disproportionate to the offence.
• The law grants the government representative powers of both police officer and judge, enabling him to issue administrative demolition orders and execute demolition procedures.
• It is not possible to appeal the orders and decisions issued, except within a limited period of time, not exceeding a month, and only related to very narrowly defined technical issues.
• The law invalidates the effect of inheritance law.
Gaining village recognition does not ensure provision of effective public services or the issuance of building permits.
• Recognized Arab villages in al-Naqab lack many public services, suffer from poor education levels, and rank at the bottom of social socio-economic status.
• In the villages that have been recently recognized in Wahat Al-Sahraa and Abu Basma councils, no plate structure has been set up since 2005, and it’s not possible to issue building permits in these villages which continue to face large demolition operations.
The Prawer Plan disrupts the social fabric and effectively pillages the societal/community resources of the Palestinians in al-Naqab.
• The confiscation of land owned by Palestinian Bedouins will have a severe detrimental impact on the socio-economic conditions of the Bedouin community and render the agricultural and livestock-raising dependent lifestyle of Palestinian Bedouins highly implausible.
• The Palestinian Bedouin village with its homogeneity constitutes a social resource that instills feelings of safety and familiarity, contrary to cities that lead to the depletion of these resources.
Bedouin from the Abu Ayyadeh clan make coffee during a wedding celebration in Kusaifa village in the Negev desert. September 6, 2007. Opponents of the plan fear such communal ties will be broken by forced removal. Photo by Nayef Hashlamoun
Naqab Arabs have proposed an alternative to the Prawer Plan.
• The regional council of unrecognized village has proposed an alternative plan which calls for the recognition of unrecognized Bedouin villages in their current existing planning pattern.
• The Arab villages in al-Naqab meet the planning department’s professional standards for gaining legal recognition.
The Prawer Plan is racist and epitomizes Israel’s apartheid system.
• The Prawer Plan prohibits establishing any Arab communities west of Road 40.
• Arab and Jewish citizens are treated under wholly different legal systems, the former languish under a semi-military rule, whereas the Jewish citizen enjoys full constitutional rights.
Links and other Materials:
More material is available upon request.
• “From Araqib to Susiya” a story of two villages, one in the West Bank and other in AL-Naqab both facing the same ordeal. (video)
• Um-Hiran facing the new Jewish settlement of Hiran. (video)
• Al-Araqib the destruction of a village. (video)
• Clashes in Al-Naqab with Israeli Police. (video)
• Women in action, the protests and the participation of Palestinian women. (video)
• Real News Report on the Prawer Plan.
More notes and links
Where will the Bedouin be put?
The seven destination towns for displaced Negev Bedouin are the Bedouin townships of Rahat, Keseifa, Segev Shalom, Aro’er, Lakiya, Tel Sheva, and Hura;
Government fights back
In 1963 Moshe Dayan told Ha’aretz:
We must turn the Bedouin into urban labourers … It means that the Bedouin will no longer live on his land with his flocks but will become an urbanite who comes home in the afternoon and puts his slippers on. His children will get used to a father who wears pants, without a dagger, and who does not pick out their nits in public. They will go to school, their hair combed and parted. This will be a revolution, but it can be achieved in two generations. Not by coercion but with direction from the state. This reality that is known as the Bedouin will disappear.
Government policy does not seem to have changed, but they speak more diplomatically. Aware of the widespread hostility towards the Prawer-Begin plans, it has now issued the following justification through its embassies:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel
Behind the Headlines
Mission of Israel to the UN in Geneva
Recognizing that the Bedouin of the Negev need assistance, the government of Israel created a comprehensive policy aimed at improving their economic, social and living conditions, as well as resolving long-standing land issues.
This new policy constitutes a major step forward towards integrating the Bedouin more fully into Israel’s multicultural society, while still preserving their unique culture and heritage.
The Bedouin in the Negev, numbering approximately 210,000, is one of many communities which comprise Israel’s pluralistic society. Unfortunately, historically this community has been ranked low in socio-economic indicators.
Recognizing that the Bedouin of the Negev need assistance, the government of Israel created a comprehensive policy – called the Begin Plan – aimed at improving their economic, social and living conditions, as well as resolving long-standing land issues.
The Bedouin in the Negev
To this end, Israel has allocated approximately 2.2 billion dollars (8 billion shekels), including over 330 million dollars (1.2 billion shekels) for specific economic and social development projects.
This January 2013 policy – named after then-minister Ze’ev Binyamin (Benny) Begin – is designed to solve a wide range of problems affecting the Bedouin population. Among the numerous initiatives that have begun or are planned are the expansion of technological and adult education, the development of industrial centers, the establishment of employment guidance centers, assistance in strengthening Bedouin local governments, improvements to the transportation system, centers of excellence for students and support for Bedouin women who wish to work or start businesses.
Ahmed Al-Karnawi in his greenhouse in Rahat in the Negev
As part of the Israeli government’s efforts to reduce Bedouin unemployment, he and other Bedouin have received government plots to set up small agricultural businesses. Al-Karnawi cultivates roses (which he exports abroad) and vegetables. (Copyright: MFA free usage)
Israel is working with the Bedouin community on all aspects of the Begin Plan. Indeed, the plan was developed through dialogue and in close coordination with the Bedouin: In an attempt to expand on the previous Prawer Plan, Minister Begin and his team met with thousands of Bedouin individuals and organizations during the development stage. As a result, Bedouin traditions and cultural sensitivities were taken into consideration, and a plan was formulated to reinforce the connection of the Bedouin to their culture and heritage.
Furthermore, contrary to some claims, Israel is not forcing a nomadic community to change its lifestyle. The Bedouin in the Negev, who moved to the area starting at the end of the 18th century, began settling down over a hundred years ago, long before the establishment of the State of Israel. By now, most Bedouin citizens live in permanent homes.
Still, one of the major problems facing the Bedouin is housing. Almost half of the Negev Bedouin (approximately 90,000) live in houses built illegally, many of them in shacks without basic services. Isolated encampments and other Bedouin homes may lack essential infrastructures, including sewage systems and electricity, and access to services such as educational and health facilities is limited.
There are solutions to this problem and to the many other difficulties facing the Bedouin. For example, under the Begin Plan, the government is giving every Bedouin family (or eligible individual) that needs it, a resident plot. These lands are being developed to include all the modern infrastructures and will be granted free of charge. Bedouin families can then build houses according to their own desires and traditions. Those that move will be offered their choice of joining rural, agricultural, communal, suburban or urban communities.
A street in the Bedouin village of Drijat, “the first Bedouin solar village”
The village was converted in 2005 to a modern solar village by a governmental project of a multipurpose solar electricity system. Thus, many houses, the school, the mosque and the street lights in Drijat are powered by solar panels.
Most of the Bedouin citizens will remain in their current homes. 120,000 already live in one of the seven Bedouin urban centers or eleven recognized villages. Of the remaining 90,000 that live in encampments or communities that are not zoned, only 30,000 will have to move, most of them a short distance (a few kilometers at most). The other 60,000 will have their homes legalized under Israel’s initiative, which will develop their communities and grant the residents property rights.
Much has been made of those Bedouin who will have to move. However, almost half of them (14,000-15,000) have settled illegally within the danger zone of the Ramat Hovav Toxic Waste Disposal Facility. Given the threat to their health, and even lives should there be an incident at the facility, the government of Israel has an obligation to relocate these families.
The Begin Plan will also resolve land claims made by a number of Bedouin in the Negev, most of which have been in dispute for decades. Currently, there are 2,900 land claims regarding 587 square kilometers (227 sq. miles). Although these claims have no legal basis under Israeli law (and were not recognized under the previous Ottoman or British land law systems), Israel wants to resolve the issue. It will do so by adopting a compromise according to which all the Bedouin claimants will receive compensation in land and money equivalent to the full value of the land claimed. The Bedouin will no longer have to engage in lengthy court cases while the compensation process will be based on the principles of fairness, transparency and dialogue
Minister without portfolio Benny Begin speaking at a Geneva Initiative youth leadership conference. Photo by Mati Milstein
There have been attempts to attack the Begin Plan (which its detractors deliberately misname the Prawer Plan in order to associate it with an outdated proposal). Many of those acting in the international arena against Israel’s plan for the Bedouin belong to the camp which seizes upon any opportunity to harm Israel’s reputation. Others have purer motives, but have based their opposition on false information distributed by Israel’s opponents.
This opposition is unfortunate, particularly for the Bedouin who will benefit greatly from the Begin Plan. This new policy constitutes a major step forward towards integrating the Bedouin more fully into Israel’s multicultural society, while still preserving their unique culture and heritage.
Most importantly, the Begin Plan guarantees a better future for Bedouin children. No longer will they have to reside in isolated shacks without electricity or proper sewage. Now they will live closer to schools and will be able to walk home safely on sidewalks with streetlights, alongside paved roads. They will have easier access to health clinics and educational opportunities. Their parents will enjoy greater employment prospects, bettering the economic situation of the whole family. To oppose the Begin Plan is to oppose improving the lives of Bedouin children.