Former Deputy Director of the Bedouin administration Eli Atzmon has warned that the implementation of the Prawer-Begin bill will lead to the eviction of 100,000 Bedouin from their homes in the Negev in southern Israel.
During a conference organized by Jewish-Arab coalition Shutafut Sharakah, Atzmon said that the circulated displacement figures for the plan are misleading. According to Atzmon, “since the seventies, 30 per cent of Arab Bedouin do not live there and live in ‘unrecognized’ Arab Bedouin villages.” He continued, “therefore the implementation of the plan, which passed during the first reading in the Knesset last June, and is scheduled to pass for the second reading, means that almost 100,000 Bedouin will be displaced from their villages and not the 40,000 as published.”
The official, who worked for years to displace Arab Bedouin from their lands and from their “unrecognized” villages, concluded that, “the chances that the plan will be implemented are slim. It is not even possible to reach a cooperation agreement on the dispute over the land ownership between the state and the Bedouin citizens.”
The conference discussed the legal dimensions of the plan and revealed a new media campaign strategy.
Chairman of the “unrecognized” villages in the Negev Atteieh El-Asam explained at the conference that the Bedouin citizens are collectively refusing the law. According to El-Asam, they intend to take all necessary measures to prevent the implementation of the plan. “Even if the Knesset passed the law during the second reading, the plan does not have any chance to be implemented in reality. The Bedouin citizens do not want to live in a democracy where the state tramples minority rights,” he declared.
The Nili Baruch of human rights organization Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights announced that an alternative plan has been prepared with the local citizens who suggest recognizing the “unrecognized” villages. Rabbis for Human Rights also revealed that the majority of the Jewish public opposes the discriminatory Prawer-Begin plan.