FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Anna Rose Siegel
International Advocacy Coordinator
The Negev Coexistence Forum
Tel: +972 54 205 6821
Email: [email protected]
Press Release: The Knesset Approves the Highly Devastating Prawer-Begin Bill In First Voting Round
Monday, June 24th, 2013 (Jerusalem): The Knesset voted in favor to the Prawer-Begin bill. Forty-three Members of Knesset voted in favor and 40 voted in opposition to the passage of the bill. The Prawer-Begin bill will displace at least 30,000 (and up to 70,000) Bedouin citizens.
Furthermore, it will dispossess the Arab Bedouin population of its land and traditional means of production as well diminish its social structure. The bill will cause Bedouins to be concentrated into impoverished, urban areas where their potential for self-development will be stymied.
The approval of the Prawer-Begin bill is contrary to the recommendations of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2011), which has called on Israel to refrain from forcibly evicting residents and to stop the demolitions in the unrecognized villages. It also contradicts the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (2007), which has called for the State to examine the possibility of recognizing Bedouin villages, allow Bedouin to control and tend their fields and desist with evacuations that are conducted without the consent of the residents in the villages.
This bill has undergone many reviews. In May 2013, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation reviewed the approved the bill, incorporating measures that will increase the police force employed to implement the plan and increase the Committee’s authority to supervise, centralize and direct this plan.
The Negev Coexistence Forum (NCF) is appalled by the result of this Knesset vote. NCF representatives believe that the Prawer-Begin plan will constitute a terrible threat and an ongoing, oppressive campaign by the State to forcibly concentrate its Bedouin citizens within a limited space. Moreover, the implementation of the bill will be devastating for the future of civil society in the Negev and the possibility of Jews and Arabs to live their lives together in this space.
Following the vote, NCF Executive Director Haia Noach stated, “Today is a dark day for civil society in Israel. This legislative decision, which makes racially based distinctions between populations and perpetuates an unequal allocation of resources on the basis of ethnicity, is a shameful decision for a government that boasts about its democratic agenda and practices.”
We urge all national and international activists, policy makers, journalists, and diplomats to vocalize dismay for the Knesset’s approval of the Prawer-Begin bill and fight for this bill to be revoked.
To stay updated in the aftermath of this vote, please visit the NCF website regularly.