Israeli official: Over 80 percent of Bedouins support Prawer Plan
Arab-Israelis take part in a demonstration against the against the Prawer plan in the northern Israeli city of Haifa on November 30, 2013. The so-called Prawer-Begin Bill calls for the relocation of 30,000-40,000 Bedouin in the Negev - 80 percent of which support the law, according to Israeli official Dror Almog. (AFP)
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Despite huge protests dubbed "the day of rage" and a widespread international outcry against the Prawer Plan - an Israeli law designed to "regulate" the resettlement of Bedouins in the Negev - the government believes that the vast majority of Bedouins support the plan.
Dror Almog, who heads the implementation team for resettling the Bedouin, told Haaretz that he believes that around 80 percent of the Bedouins who will be affected by the Prawer Plan support it.
“Between the Bedouin and the state there’s a large, ongoing crisis of confidence that needs to be resolved,” Almog told Haaretz on Sunday. “The demonstrations don’t come from within the Bedouin community, and I’ve even received a letter of apology from one tribal head, seeking forgiveness for the violent incidents. The plan aims to deal with the issue of trust and to regulate the settlement with fairness, respect, sensitivity and cooperation," Almog told Haaretz.
The Israeli official also slammed Arab members of the Knesset, who he accused of trying to manipulate the situation of the Negev Bedouin to make it seem similar to that of the Arabs in Galilee, the wider Palestinian conflict and the widespread unrest in the Arab world.
“The Bedouin are citizens with equal rights and the MKs [members of the Knesset] have chosen to take the route of protest, non-cooperation with the government … agitation and incitement, and have harsh words for those who worked on the program,” Almog said.
Almog told Haaretz that although there is significant and broad support for the Prawer Plan among the Bedouin, they are remaining silent due to "internal social pressures".
The official also criticized claims by Arab MKs and Bedouins that they weren't included in the resettlement process planning.
“Benny Begin circulated around the area for an entire year, and we spoke with hundreds, if not thousands of residents,” Almog said, according to Haaretz. “There were discussions and revisions until the final document was arrived at. We sat with organizations that oppose the plan, from Adalah and Bimkom on the left, to Regavim on the right. It’s impossible for everyone to be satisfied.”
Disputing Almog's statements of Bedouin support is Atia Al Assam, the chairman of the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages, who categorically rejects the claims that the majority of Negev Bedouin support the Prawer Plan.
“It’s most unfortunate that the state uses these lies,” Assam told Haaretz. “If there is 80 percent, why don’t we hear from them? Twenty percent can not threaten 80 percent. If the majority wanted it, it would say so explicitly, and we don’t hear this.”
Assam refuted Almog's claims and said that the vast majority of Bedouin of the Negev support the plan: “Maybe there are a few percent in favor of the law, mostly tribes that have no land and are in need. But no one will accept a plan that destroys his village.”
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