Next Wednesday, November 6th the Internal Affairs Committee of the Knesset, headed by MK Miri Regev (Likud-Israel Beiteinu) will review the Prawer Begin Bill, officially known as the Law for Regulating Bedouin Settlement in the Negev. The name conceals a massive programme of dispossession and displacement, as we have frequently reported.
Dr. Benny Begin, one of the later architects of the plan will open the proceedings with an exposition of the Bill and the current situation in the Negev. Mr. Atiya Al-Assam, chair of the Region Council of Unreconized Villages has requested to present the alternative plan of the Bedouin community during the hearings.
The Committee is to meet weekly in order to speed up final legislation by the end of this year or by early 2014. The Likud party (3 members) supports the Bill, the position of Yesh Atid (2) Avoda, (1) Hatnuah (1) Ra’am Ta’al (1) Shas (1) Hadash (1) Meretz (1) Yehadut HaTorah (1) remains to be seen. NGO’s, including the NCF, are lobbying against the Bill among these parties.
These are bad times for Israel in which the parliamentary process is being used to further a law that, if passed, represents the tyranny of the majority. Most of the Bedouin community opposes the law which is discriminatory and even anti-democratic since it proposes forced relocation of Israeli citizens from their homes in order to eventually replace them with other Israeli (Jewish) citizens. If passed, the law will intensify the discrimination between Jews and Arabs. It will disrupt the delicate fabric of Jewish-Arab relations in the Negev, and indeed, throughout Israel.
Simultaneously to the Bill, the Government has announced a new initiative of five new villages along the Be’er-Sheva Dimona road (Route 25) on the site of several Bedouin villages. This in addition to 10 new (Jewish) villages announced in November 2011, some of which are also sited on Bedouin lands.