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Report: Israeli President, PM say Prawer Plan will move forward

Dec. 1, 2013 10:26 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 1, 2013 10:03 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- In spite of worldwide demonstrations against the Prawer Plan Saturday, the Israeli President and Prime Minister said the plan would continue to be pursued, Israeli media reported.

"Millions of shekels were invested in this plan and I'm sure the intentions are good," said Israeli President Shimon Peres, according to the Israeli news site Ynet.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu condemned anti-Prawer protests, reportedly saying: "We will try the offenders to the full extent of the law. We will not tolerate such riots. We shall continue to advance the Prawer Bill."

Thousands of protesters participated in a large demonstration in Haifa, Jerusalem, and in the Negev on Saturday against the Prawer Plan as part of a global "day of rage."

Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset, Ahmed al-Tibi, and Jamal Zahalka, also participated in the protest.

Israeli police dispersed the protests with water cannons and batons, and arrested dozens of demonstrators.

Some protesters responded by throwing rocks at police officers.

Anti-Prawer protests took place on both sides of the Green Line and worldwide, as Palestinians, Israelis, and international activists protested in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and in at least 14 other countries in Europe and the Arab World.

Demonstrators attended the protests in objection to Israel's Prawer Plan, which would forcibly relocate tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouins if implemented.

The Israeli government approved the Prawer-Begin Plan in 2011, in what it says was an attempt to address the problem of unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev desert of southern Israel.

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the plan will forcibly evict nearly 40,000 Bedouin and destroy their communal and social fabric, condemning them to a future of poverty and unemployment.

Other estimates put the number of Bedouin residents to be evicted by the Prawer Plan at 70,000.

Israel refuses to recognize 35 Bedouin villages in the Negev, which collectively house nearly 90,000 people.

The Israeli government denies them access to basic services and infrastructure, such as electricity and running water, and refuses to place them under municipal jurisdiction.

The Prawer Plan was approved by Israeli parliament in a first reading in June, and two more votes on the plan are expected.
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