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Palestinian Knesset members urge Kerry to oppose Prawer Plan

Dec. 5, 2013 8:02 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 6, 2013 10:32 P.M.)
BEERSHEBA (Ma'an) -- Four Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset on Thursday sent a message to US Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to pressure Israel to stop its so-called Prawer Plan to uproot Bedouin villages.

Knesset members Ibrahim Sarsour, Ahmad Tibi, Masoud Ghanayim, and Talab Abu Arar detailed the implications of the Prawer Plan in their letter to Kerry, describing the structured displacement of Negev Bedouin as "ethnic cleansing."

Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa director Phillip Luther and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay have denounced the Prawer Plan, the Knesset members noted in the letter.

The plan would urbanize the traditionally agriculture-savvy Bedouin, thus putting "an end to their historic way of living," they added.

According to the letter, Israel has destroyed 200 Bedouin homes in the Negev since 2009.

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.

It was approved by parliament in a first reading in June, and two more votes on it are expected.

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.

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