Beersheba conference urges Arab candidates to oppose Prawer plan
Published Monday 07/10/2013 (updated) 09/10/2013 09:18
BEERSHEBA (Ma'an) – A conference was held Sunday at the Leonardo Hotel in Beersheba in southern Israel to confirm widespread opposition to Israel's so-called Prawer Plan, which could displace 40,000 Bedouin residents of the Negev desert.
The conference urged all Arab candidates for local elections in the region to sign a written document declaring their opposition to the implementation of the plan in their villages.
The conference was organized by the Higher Guidance Committee of the Arab Residents of Negev. Several members of the committee delivered speeches at the conference urging candidates to run clean campaigns, protect the social structures in their villages and first and foremost oppose the Prawer Plan by all means.
Among the conference speakers was Knesset member Talab Abu Arar of the United Arab List and former Knesset member Talab al-Sani, chairman of the Arab Democratic Party.
Atiyeh al-Aasam, head of the regional council of unrecognized Arab villages, commenced the conference by reading the document which candidates were subsequently asked to sign. The document read that signatories would be committed to abstaining from implementing the Prawer Plan, "by word and deed," and that they would "stand by our people’s legitimate demands including recognition of the unrecognized villages and recognition of Arab ownership of land."
"A majority of the candidates were present and all the attendants have signed a document declaring they would abstain from cooperating with the Prawer Plan. The rest of candidates can still sign the document, although we know some of them will not sign," al-Aasam told Ma'an.
Among the candidates who missed the conference were current mayor and main candidate of Shaqib al-Salam local council, Amer Abu Muammar, and current mayor and candidate of Tel al-Sabe council, Mousa Abu Asa. Hurah mayoral candidate, Farouq Atawneh, and acting mayor of Rahat and candidate Amer al-Hzayyil, also missed the conference. Another Rahat mayoral candidate, Faysal al-Hzayyil, who is an activist within the Higher Guidance Committee of Arab residents of Negev missed the conference as well. He said he had previous commitments.
The Israeli government approved the Prawer-Begin plan in 2011. It calls for the forced relocation of tens of thousands of Bedouin, the demolition of about 40 villages and the confiscation of more than 700,000 dunums of land in the Negev. The 2011 proposal was formulated without any consultation with the Bedouin community and rights groups slammed it as a major blow to Bedouin rights.
According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the plan will forcibly evict nearly 40,000 Bedouins and destroy their communal and social fabric, condemning them to a future of poverty and unemployment.
Israel refuses to recognize 35 Bedouin villages in the Negev, which collectively house nearly 90,000 people.
The Israeli state denies them access to basic services and infrastructure, such as electricity and running water, and refuses to place them under municipal jurisdiction.