[Thursday, December 12, 2013] The Israeli government has decided to discard a controversial draft law to relocate thousands of Bedouin residents from the Negev desert, the Ma’an News Agency has reported. The decision does not imply official recognition of the dozens of villages in the Negev.Benny Begin, an official who was charged with implementing the infamous ‘Prawer Plan’, said that he has recommended to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ‘end the debate on the law’, in the Knesset.
‘The prime minister accepted this proposal’, he announced at a Tel Aviv press conference, days after the plan emerged, as the coalition overseeing the project was divided on proposed legislation.
The news comes less than two weeks following worldwide protests held in resistance to the plan, during which police and soldiers clashed repeatedly with demonstrators in Israel, culminating in dozens of injuries and arrests across Israel and the West Bank.
According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the plan would have forcibly evicted nearly 40,000 Bedouins, destroying their communal and social fabric, and condemning them to a future of poverty and unemployment.
Other sources estimate the number to be closer to 70, 000.
The decision does not mean, in any way, an end to the suffering of the Bedouin community in the Negev, and does not bring them any closer to being recognized as equal citizens, or just citizens.
It does not mean the recognition of dozens of villages and communities which existed before Israel was established in the historic land of Palestine in 1948. Therefore, Israel will continue to deprive them of basic services, such as infrastructure, water, sewage and electricity.
The Bedouins in the Negev will still be denied the right to build, buy or sell homes and property and, of course, will still be denied the right to vote or run in local government elections.
The Jewish Voice for Peace has reported that many Bedouin villages and homes are still facing the threat of demolition, including the Al-Araqeeb village that was demolished more than 60 times.