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Negev residents to protest forced displacement plan

June 9, 2013 1:55 P.M. (Updated: June 10, 2013 2:25 P.M.)
BEERSHEBA, Israel (Ma'an) -- Arab and Bedouin residents in the Negev announced Sunday that they would be rallying against a legislative proposal to be put before the Knesset that would see the dismantling of unrecognized villages and the forced displacement of residents.

The Al-Naqab Association for Land and Human Beings said all residents were being urged to join Thursday's protest, which includes a general strike, organized by the Higher Guidance Committee of the Arab Residents in the Negev.

Protestors are set to rally in front of government offices in Beersheba at 10am, starting at the municipal market.

"Joining this rally, the general strike and demonstration is everybody’s duty because it is about the future of Arabs in Negev. If the public do not act now, it will be too late," said Atiyeh al-Assam, the mayor of the regional council of unrecognized Arab villages.

The proposal, known as the Prawer Plan, would see the forced displacement of thousands of Negev residents living in what Israel calls "unrecognized villages" to predefined areas approved by the government and the razing of their homes.

The Prawer Plan was scheduled to go before the Knesset on Monday, but the hearing has been postponed until further notice, the Association of Civil Rights in Israel told Ma'an.

ACRI and Adalah, the legal center for Arab minority rights in Israel, formally submitted their reservations to the Plan in April 2012.

At the time, ACRI attorney Rawia Aburabia described the proposal as "a farce."

"A democratic state cannot pass a law of discrimination, one that violates human rights and continues to harm a minority that has suffered from neglect and discrimination dating back to the founding of the State," a joint statement read.

In May, Israeli authorities demolished the al-Arakib village in the Negev for the 50th time, just days after an Israeli government committee approved a draft bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev. The draft bill sets a framework to implement the evacuation of "unrecognized" villages, most of which existed before the state of Israel.

More than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages. Israel does not recognize 35 of the 46 Bedouin towns and villages in the Negev.
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