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Thousands protest Israel Bedouin relocation plan
Published Sunday 11/12/2011 (updated) 13/12/2011 10:19
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Bedouin citizens of Israel pray during a protest outside the office of Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Dec. 11, 2011.
(REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Several thousand people demonstrated on Sunday outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, protesting over a plan they say will displace tens of thousands of people from their land.

The demonstrators came from Bedouin communities across Israel, gathering outside Netanyahu's Jerusalem office holding signs reading "We are staying here" and "No to the Praver Plan."

Palestinian citizens of Israel closed schools and businesses for the day on Sunday, in a strike to protest the Praver plan approved by the government in September, Israeli news site Ynet reported.

Israel says the plan will address the problem of unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev desert of southern Israel, helping Bedouin better integrate into Israeli society.

But the proposal was formulated without any consultation with the community, with rights groups slamming it as a major blow to Bedouin rights and warning it would forcefully uproot tens of thousands from their land.

In October, several thousand Bedouin joined a similar demonstration in Beersheba, with Bedouin villages and towns observing a general strike.

The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, which represents Arab communities in Israel, has described the so-called Praver initiative as a "disaster" which would have "dangerous" consequences.

There are around 160,000 Bedouin in Israel, most of whom live in and around the Negev desert, largely the descendants of Palestinians that managed to remain during the 1948 war that established the state of Israel.

More than half of them live in unrecognized villages without municipal services like water and electricity, and much of the rest also live in extreme poverty.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report
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1 ) Julie / USA
11/12/2011 20:16
founder of zionism, Theodor Herzl, promoted anti-semitism to further the zionist cause. he states, “It is essential that the sufferings of Jews. . .become worse. . .this will assist in realization of our plans. . .I have an excellent idea. . . I shall induce anti-Semites to liquidate Jewish wealth. . . The anti-Semites will assist us thereby in that they will strengthen the persecution and oppression of Jews. The anti-Semites shall be our best friends”. (From his Diary, Part I, page 16)

2 ) Karen Nakamura / San Francisco
11/12/2011 21:10
My facebook site is a buzz with this today. We've been worrying for months and will do all we can to give support to this just cause. This is a Crime Against Humanity. Let us all Stand Tall and Stay Human. And Ma'an, we depend on you, thank you for your consistently good coverage.

3 ) Colin Wright / USA
12/12/2011 09:38
To Julie #1 'Theodor Herzl...states I shall induce anti-semites to liquidate Jewish wealth...' (I) Did you get this from an actual edition of Herzl's dairy? I'd be very wary of the source. The tactic of spurious quotations is often used by pro-Israelis, but anti-Israelis aren't above it either. In any case, that Zionism was a response to anti-semitism is hardly news -- nor is it news that Herzl thought it would be an effective response. He was right: anti-semitism did make Israel possible.

4 ) Colin Wright / USA
12/12/2011 09:42
To Julie #1 'Theodor Herzl...states I shall induce anti-semites to liquidate Jewish wealth...' (II) So I have two sets of questions. First, are the quotations authentic and not distorted by being taken out of context? Second -- and if and only if the answers to the first questions are in the affirmative -- so what? What -- precisely -- is significant about the remarks? After all, anti-semitism certainly is real. No one made it up.
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