Having never asked, Israel’s gov’t ‘surprised’ Bedouin reject Prawer

Israeli coalition leader Yariv Levin predicted that the cabinet will likely throw out the current version of the Prawer Plan, hours after former minister and co-architect of the plan Benny Begin clarified that he never said Bedouin supported the plan, as some Knesset members originally perceived.

“I wish to again make clear that contrary to what has been claimed in recent weeks, I didn’t tell anyone that the Bedouin agreed to my plan,” Begin was quoted as saying in Israeli media. “I couldn’t say that because I didn’t show them the plan. I didn’t present the bill that I revised to any segment of the public, including the Bedouin.”

Read +972’s full coverage of the Prawer Plan

Levin thus concluded that the bill would not stand a chance of passing second and third readings in the Knesset since the majority’s support for it rested on an assumption that the Bedouin themselves had largely agreed to the terms of the bill – which Begin revealed as totally false.

Just like that.

The bill has drawn criticism from Bedouin citizens and human rights groups since it was first introduced in 2011. In recent months it has been the source of wide-scale protests across Israel and Palestine that saw heavy police suppression, which grabbed the attention of mainstream Israeli media just recently.

And just like that, all of a sudden, the current version of the bill might be scrapped.

All because one Likudnik said what others, first and foremost the Bedouin, have been saying all along: the Bedouin do not support this plan – not least because they were never consulted or involved in its formulation, and never even privy to any of its content or details, as Begin has now confirmed.

Levin made it seem as if he was concerned with what they Bedouin actually think about the government plan (that has been hidden from members of Knesset, the Bedouin themselves and the public at large). If that were the case, he could have simply asked them long ago.

When Arab MKs expressed opposition to Prawer the name of their constituents, the Right dismissed them by saying they don’t represent the majority of Bedouin. When Israeli human rights groups and international bodies criticized the plan and offered alternative plans, they were ignored or shot down. When Bedouin themselves protested, the Right cast them aside as a vocal minority at best, an invader population looking to conspire with West Bank Palestinians to take over Israeli lands at worst.

In the end, all they had to do was ask.

But the tragic irony of the whole matter is that the current bill may not go through because of pressure from the Right and/or lack of due process – the former being concerns from the the entire Right that it gives too much land to Bedouin, and the latter being the fact that the plan has been concealed even from members of the Knesset Interior Affairs Committee, as was already reported here.

While the bill being scrapped may seem like good news, it it will only be the end of the current version; a newer version will be drafted which will in all likelihood be even worse as for the rights and dignity of the Bedouin. And don’t be fooled by Levin –  he is not actually interested in what the Bedouin have to say about the plan that will permanently uproot them and alter their lives forever.

To Levin, the current version is far too generous to the Bedouin. A newer version should be drafted up and “whoever won’t agree should be forcefully placed in the areas allotted to Bedouin. The agreement to join the generous outline should be limited in time, and it should be determined that the lands would only be leased to the Bedouins, not registered with the Land Authority as their property.”

Meanwhile, a report released Tuesday by Adalah and the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality confirms (Hebrew) that the government is knowingly denying access to water to the Bedouin citizens who live in the 35 unrecognized villages in the Negev. In other words, citizens are systematically being denied what Israel itself defines as a basic human right.

The military face behind the Prawer Plan’s civilian mask
See the Prawer Plan map Israel’s government was keeping secret
How the natives became invaders in their own homes