Police arrest 28 in protests against Prawer-Begin plan

Protesters call on gov't to freeze plan, which seeks to regulate Arab settlement in the Negev.

July 15, 2013 19:40
2 minute read.
BEDUIN WOMEN take part in a protest in Beersheba.

Beduin women yelling 370. (photo credit: Amir Cohen/Reuters)

Police arrested a total of 28 people on Monday at protests called to press the government to stop implementation of the Prawer-Begin plan to regulate Beduin land claims in the Negev.

Fourteen demonstrators were arrested and two officers were lightly hurt at a protest held in front of the offices in Beersheba of the committee for regulating Beduin villages.

Around 400 people protested at the Yuvalim junction near Sakhnin in the Western Galilee, and police arrested 14 people there for participating in an illegal demonstration.

Officers used crowd dispersal means.

The bill to implement the Prawer-Begin plan has passed its first reading in the Knesset.

The plan is based on a proposal by a team that was headed by Ehud Prawer, then-head of policy planning in the Prime Minister’s Office, to provide for the status and economic development of Beduin communities in the Negev; resolve claims over land ownership; and establish a mechanism and timetables for binding implementation and enforcement.

The Monitoring Committee of the Israeli Arab Leadership – which includes all the Arab political parties, as well as NGOs working with the sector – announced a general strike in their communities for Monday.

Haia Noach, CEO of the Negev Coexistence Forum, which supports the Beduin, told The Jerusalem Post there was unnecessary “police brutality” at the protest near Sakhnin. She estimated that there were around 250 to 300 protesters.

“It is not reasonable to go on with the plan, because it will create a clash between the government and the people,” she said.

Demonstrations were also held in other parts of the country, with one set for Jaffa in the evening.

Noach said that Ramadan and the heat may have led to a lower turnout than expected.

Amichai Yogev, southern region director for Regavim – an NGO that seeks to ensure responsible, legal and accountable use of Israel’s national land – told the Post that police intelligence officers and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) believe that there were hardly any Beduin at the protests and that participants were mostly Arabs from the North.

Beduin tend not to fly Palestinian flags at their protests, he said.

What these protesters and NGOs are trying to do is make “everyone see the Beduin as Palestinians – they want to impose the Arab-Israeli conflict onto the Beduin even though they do not care about nationalism,” Yogev said.

“The Beduin sit at home and let the [other] Arabs protest,” he said.

Yogev said that some Beduin will say they agree with the bill, but the problem is the NGOs such as Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – which want to create chaos and make the problem unsolvable.

In regards to the Prawer-Begin bill, he said that there are many in Bayit Yehudi and the Likud who want to make changes to the legislation to make it less generous to Beduin.

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.

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