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Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Israel plans to forcibly transfer 40,000 Bedouin citizens" -- Electronic Intifada

http://electronicintifada.net/content/israel-plans-forcibly-transfer-40000-bedouin-citizens/10084
via Aletho News

EXCERPT:

The report states that the Israeli government would offer compensation for only 50 percent of the land the Bedouin currently control and have settled on. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on 2 June that the cost of their displacement is estimated at between six to eight billion Israeli shekels ($1.7 to $2.4 billion USD), including 1.2 billion shekels ($356 million) for economic development in “recognized” Bedouin communities (“Netanyahu’s office promoting plan to relocate 30,000 Bedouin,” 2 June 2011).

I think that they will go with all their force to implement it. We [will] have to accept it by power. It will be a lot of demolitions and very violent. [There will be] policemen and a lot of actions that the government will do against us. They will attack us,” Abu Freih said.

According to the same report in Haaretz, the amount of compensation Bedouin citizens will receive in exchange for their lands will be reduced as time passes, and “after a five-year period, land which has not been the subject of the claim process will be registered as belonging to the state.”

While Bedouin citizens make up 30 percent of the population in the Negev, they only take up 2 percent of the area’s total land. Further, should all the Bedouins’ land claims be accepted by the state — including the legalization of the currently unrecognized villages and counting the government-planned townships — the Bedouins would control only 5.4 percent of the total land.

An Israeli government vote on the Prawer Report was scheduled for early June yet was postponed due to political pressure from right-wing parties, who argued that the plan gives too much land to the Bedouin. If approved, Israel hopes to implement the Prawer Report within a five-year period.

No consultation with Bedouin citizens

Dr. Thabet Abu Ras is a Professor of Political Geography at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Director of the Naqab Project for Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. He explained that the Prawer Report cannot be implemented for a variety of reasons, including most notably the fact that Bedouin citizens were never consulted.

Nobody asked the Bedouin what they want, and really the whole Prawer Report is against the desires of the Bedouins. It treats the Bedouins as unequal citizens,” Abu Ras told The Electronic Intifada. “I think the Bedouins have been invisible people in the last sixty years. Unfortunately, they continue to be invisible citizens of the State of Israel after 63 years.”

Abu Ras said that the Prawer Report only is a continuation of existing Israeli policies of forcibly displacing the Bedouins from their lands and moving them into an urban setting. This plan to urbanize the Bedouins began in the early 1960s, and built on the previous transfer of Bedouin populations after the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.

Let us remember that the Bedouins are citizens of the State of Israel and they are supposed to be equal citizens in the State of Israel. I am asking, who can [gain] anything from the frustration of the Bedouins? The Bedouins are very frustrated. There is an issue of mistrust and at the same time, they are saying, ‘We are willing to talk with you. There is enough room for everybody in the Naqab, for Jews as well as Bedouins. The development of the Naqab should not be at our expense,’” he said.

The way I read Prawer Report,” Abu Ras added, “is that they [will] uproot people from 25 villages, 40,000 to 45,000 people, and push them to the townships.”

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