Arab MKs on Thursday called on Beduin citizens to disobey the “Prawer bill,”
regulating Beduin settlements in the Negev, if it becomes law.
Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al), speaking to Army Radio, told Beduin who live on
the land in question not to evacuate it if asked.
“As a leader, I have
responsibilities toward my public – I am proud to riot against the bill,” Tibi
The Prawer-Begin plan seeks to regulate Arab settlement in the
Negev by legalizing ownership to 63 percent of land claimed by Beduin. The bill
passed its first reading in the Knesset on June 25. It won’t be ready for its
second reading until October.
Balad chairman Jamal Zahalka told The
Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that Israeli Arabs will continue the struggle
against the plan.
Thirty people had been arrested in protests throughout
the country and 12 were still in custody, he said. Murad Haddad, one of the
leaders of the Balad party, was arrested on Wednesday, Zahalka
“Most of the people under arrest are from the Balad party,” he
Also on Wednesday, police questioned three people for blocking the
car of Upper Nazareth Mayor Shimon Gapso, said Zahalka. A video of the incident
on YouTube, shows Balad’s MK Haneen Zoabi and other Arab protesters blocking the
mayor’s car and other traffic at an intersection.
Zoabi is seen holding a
Palestinian flag in front of the car and chanting with the
She filed a complaint with police on Wednesday, claiming that
Gapso told his driver to continue driving despite the fact that she and the
demonstrators were in the way.
Zoabi said the vehicle hit her legs and
that Gapso got out of his car and pushed her. The crowd prevented him from
attacking her further, she said.
She said that Gapso is a symbol of the
racism in the country, always trying to provoke young Palestinians.
told the Post that he filed a police complaint against Zoabi and that only
afterward did she file a complaint against him. Asked if he was scared when the
crowd surrounded his car, the mayor responded, “I am not afraid, we have to be
Asked why the protesters stopped his car, Gapso responded, "Maybe because I insistently declare that Nazareth-illit will remain a jewish city despite the Arabs' intention to change it."
The video does not show Gapso attacking Zoabi or the car hitting
her, but rather him getting out of his car, and the protesters forcing him back
The Post asked Zahalka what he plans to do if the Beduin
settlement bill passes. “The plan of action is to continue demonstrating and
protesting against the arrests of people and the police investigations of
people,” he said.
“I said today in the Knesset that arresting people will
not stop the struggle. I said that we have the right to have demonstrations and
our struggle is a nonviolent struggle,” he said.
Closing down streets is
not a reason for the police to resort to “violent action,” he said.
there two police in Israel, one for Arabs and one for Jews? If they think that
they will deter us from continuing protests they are foolish – stupid to think
arresting us will stop us,” Zahalka said.
The Prawer-Begin plan has “put
us in a corner,” and has left Arab Israelis “no choice,” he added.
are suggesting that we can prevent a confrontation by just freezing the Prawer
bill, and have real negotiations with representatives of the Beduin and the
Asked about a claim made by an official of the Regavim NGO,
that hardly any of the protesters against the plan are Beduin, but rather other
Arabs, Zahalka said this is a “baseless argument.”
“All the people in the
Negev are against it. I didn’t listen to anybody arguing that the law is good,”
he said. They are “just lying.”
Meanwhile, Public Security Minister
Yitzhak Aharonovitch said on Wednesday that an effort is being made to reduce
violence in the Arab sector, but there remain problems to be solved. Arabs make
up 20% of the population, but account for 40% of crime, he
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.