In a cabinet meeting, on Sunday, the Israeli ministers approved a plan based on the âPrawer Reportâ, which involves the forced removal of 30,000 Arab Bedouin villagers in southern Israel from their homes.The Bedouin people have lived in southern Israel for hundreds, if not thousands of years, but when Israel was created in 1948, the Israeli government chose not to recognize the Bedouin as residents, and have repeatedly destroyed their homes in the decades since.
After Sundayâs decision was announced, around 150 Bedouins gathered outside the office of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to protest the plan. Some have termed it âethnic cleansingâ, and a Bedouin representative told Israeli reporters with Haâaretz newspaper that the displacement plan represented a âdeclaration of warâ by the Israeli government against the Bedouin people.
Israel has created three ârecognizedâ areas for the Bedouins to settle in, near the municipal dump for the city of Jerusalem, and has repeatedly attempted to force the tens of thousands of âunrecognizedâ Bedouins from their ancestral homes and into these areas, which many of the Bedouin view as ghettos. The ârecognizedâ areas also do not include space for the animals of the Bedouin, many of whom are shepherds and require space for the sheep to graze.
When the âPrawer Reportâ, commissioned by the Israeli government to come up with a âsolutionâ to end the âBedouin problemâ, was released in June, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed numerous objections to the report.
The report says that the âunrecognizedâ Bedouin villages must meet a number of criteria in order to be ârecognizedâ, including economic sustainability and contiguity â criteria which many Bedouin people say involve the forced urbanization of their rural culture.
According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, ‘If the same criteria were applied to the Jewish population, whole settlements – including community settlements, observatories, kibbutzim and moshavim – would be doomedâ.