Two of the most powerful right-wing parties in Israel, Yisrael Beytenu and Jewish Home, have agreed to “torpedo” the Prawer Plan, which aims to expel tens of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in the Naqab, or Negev.
According to the Israeli news website Arutz Sheva, both parties charge that relevant information is intentionally being withheld from the Knesset about the plan.
The move puts them in an unusual alliance with opposition parties that oppose the plan, including Arab Knesset members, who sent a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday asking him to pressure the Israeli government to stop implementing the plan.
The Israeli news site reported that: “The Yisrael Beytenu and Jewish Home parties recently reached a joint decision to work together to thwart legislation to regulate illegal Bedouin settlement in the Negev. The efforts of the two coalition parties could combine with opposition-party voting to constitute the death blow to the legislation, also known as the Prawer Plan, which was advanced by former minister Benny Begin in the last government.”
Over the past several weeks, Palestinians in Israel have been holding regular protests against the plan. Last Saturday, they organised nationwide activities while international activists held parallel protests in cities around the world, which they called the Day of Rage. Israeli forces suppressed the protests and about 30 Palestinians were arrested.
According to the Israeli newspaper Maariv, the agreement to “torpedo” the plan was welcomed by the leadership of both parties: Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman from Yisrael-Beytenu and Economic Minister Naftali Bennett from Jewish Home.
MK Zevulun Kalfa, one of the agreement’s initiators, reportedly sent a letter to the chairman of the Knesset on Wednesday “asking for the freeze of debates around the law”.
“It is unthinkable that a debate so important and strategic on such a national issue is being held, and Committee members discussing the law are not revealing (and are perhaps knowingly departmentalizing) all of the relevant information related to the law,” wrote Kalfa.
Under the plan, Israel plans to expel tens of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in the Negev, destroying more than 40 Palestinians villages while only paying meagre compensation to those affected.
The Israeli government refuses to recognise the villages even though Palestinians have been living in them for decades. It instead claims that the Palestinians are living on state land, despite the fact that many of the “unrecognised” villages actually predate the state.