Allow me to rain on the Prawer parade

So the Israeli government is scrapping the Prawer Bill. Please allow me to rain on the parade.

A few months ago many on the Left celebrated when the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a law allowing the indefinite detention of asylum seekers. This week, circumventing the court’s decision, the government passed a new law  allowing the indefinite detention of asylum seekers, only this time in an “open prison.”

The Bedouin, the Left and the — not all that large — protests did not kill the Prawer bill. The Right killed this bill.

The current Israeli government did not wake up overnight and decide to take seriously the grievances of its Bedouin constituents.


Right-wing members of Knesset thought they had gone out on a limb and had been too generous to the Bedouin by granting them so much compensation and allowing so many of them to stay on their own land. When they realized that neither side actually wanted this compromise, they invoked Bibi’s new favorite phrase, stolen from scary speeches about Iran and the Palestinians: No deal is better than a bad deal.

So what will happen next? The most right-wing government Israel has ever seen will draft a new plan, without the moderating voice of now-banished old guard Likudnik Benny Begin. It will be worse than Prawer-Begin. Much worse.

Or maybe there won’t even be a new plan. Maybe they’ll just quietly evict one village at a time without any master plan that offers financial compensation or new housing. Try organizing mass protests against that.

Mostly, the result will be that Israel’s poorest and most disenfranchised citizens will have even fewer chances to build a secure, let alone better future for their families. That would have been the case under Prawer and it will be the case in a world with no Prawer.

That is not to say that anyone should have supported the Prawer Plan. It was/is a racist plan that would have displaced native Arab citizens for the benefit of Jewish settlement.

But the end of Prawer is no reason to celebrate. Not this time.


Note: Haggai Matar is slightly more optimistic about this topic. I suggest reading what he has to say too.