Israeli plan to relocate 30,000 Bedouins faces widespread protest

Posted Nov 30, 2013 by Michael Krebs
An Israeli plan to remove tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouin populations from their existing land and resettle them elsewhere was met with broad protest, including from well-known musician Peter Gabriel.
A child in the unrecognized Bedouin villages  the Negev Desert  Israel
A child in the unrecognized Bedouin villages, the Negev Desert, Israel
Physicians for Human Rights - Israel
Widespread protest, called an "international day of rage," greeted an Israeli plan to displace 30,000 Bedouins from their existing land in the Negev desert and to resettle them elsewhere, Haaretz reported on Saturday. The Israeli edict to move the Bedouin population is known as the Prawer-Begin plan.
The organized protests are expected to occur across Israel and the Middle East and in European and North American cities.
"The government is treating us like we are some object that can be moved around," Huda Abu Abyad, a law school student and activist in support of the Bedouins told Haaretz. "We are being denied our basic right to determine our own fate – to decide where we will live, and how we will use our property. But we will not give up and we will continue to protest non-violently against Prawer."
In the U.K., musical celebrity Peter Gabriel published an open letter in The Guardian asking the British government to reevaluate its relationship with Israel and to measure U.K.-Israeli dealings through a human rights filter.
"Earlier this year, the Israeli knesset approved the Prawer-Begin plan. If implemented, this plan will result in the destruction of more than 35 Palestinian towns and villages in Al-Naqab (Negev) in the south of Israel and the expulsion and confinement of up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins. It means forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes and land, and systematic discrimination and separation. The Israeli government is pushing ahead with this plan despite the Palestinian Bedouin community’s complete rejection of the plan, and condemnation from human rights groups," Gabriel's letter reads, according to +927 Magazine.
"Palestinians are holding mass demonstrations in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory to oppose the Prawer plan and urge international governments to take action capable of pressuring Israel to abandon the plan. The UK government emphasises that it has raised concerns about the forced displacement of Bedouin Palestinians “at the highest levels”. Yet such statements ring hollow when the UK government continues to export arms to Israel and continues its ties with the Israeli government and industry. It is time for the UK government to make its relationship with Israel conditional on respect for human rights and international law and take concrete action to hold Israel to account," the open letter concludes.
The Israeli government sees the Bedouin relocation as an opportunity for the desert peoples to better integrate into Israeli society.
"The idea is to ... better integrate Jews and Bedouins; to bring many more Bedouins to our work force; to employ and educate many more women for employment; and to build new communities; and to expand some of the current communities and make them modern," Doron Almog, a retired Israeli army general who is spearheading the relocation told Al Jazeera in August.