Adalah: The government’s decision to cancel the Prawer Plan bill is a major achievement

Press release

On 12 December 2013, former Israeli cabinet minister Benny Begin announced at a press conference that the proposed Prawer-Begin Bill, the legislative arm of the discriminatory Prawer Plan, will be withdrawn by the government from consideration for the Knesset’s second and third readings. In his announcement, Begin acknowledged that contrary to representations in the press, Arab Bedouin citizens do not approve of the plan.

Adalah stated that, “The withdrawal of the Prawer Plan bill is a major achievement in the history of the Palestinian community in Israel. It shows that popular action, legal advocacy and international pressure can succeed in defending the rights of 70,000 Arab Bedouin residents of the unrecognized villages in the Naqab to live with freedom and dignity on their own lands and in their villages.”

The Israeli government’s decision to withdraw the bill follows the recent disclosure of maps, figures and details that echoed the numerous statements made by Adalah, human rights organizations and international bodies, which argued that the Prawer-Begin Bill was created without consultation with the Bedouin community and without transparency to the villagers that it would effect.

The government was forced to reveal the Plan’s details after intensive media attention and public activism against the Prawer Plan in recent weeks. On 30 November 2013, thousands demonstrated against the Prawer Plan in Hura and Haifa, where they were met by police who used excessive force and made dozens of arrests. Adalah and other volunteer lawyers defended the detained protesters in court and filed official complaints to the Police Investigation Unit (“Mahash”) against the police’s violent conduct.

Adalah added that, “the cancellation of the bill is a platform to continue the dedicated work in the struggle to prevent the Israeli government from implementing the Prawer Plan. The government’s plans for the Naqab will lead to the demolition, evacuation and confiscation of Bedouin homes and lands, among which is the village of Atir-Umm el-Hieran, which will be destroyed in order to build a Jewish settlement and a forest over its lands.”

Adalah concluded: “The state must recognize the Arab Bedouin citizens’ historical ownership of their lands, grant legal recognition to the unrecognized villages, and provide full services, infrastructure and proper living conditions that are denied to the Bedouin residents of the Naqab. Adalah remains committed to the struggle for the rights and recognition of the Bedouin villages, alongside local partners and international human rights actors.”

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