The Prawer Plan relays on a unjust assumption that the ownership claims of the Arab Bedouins on their land in the Negev are not legitimate since they are not listed in the Land Registry books. During the British Mandate period, when landholders in the north and center of the country were officially registered, it was not carried out in the Negev and inaccessible to the residents of Negev. Furthermore, the Bedouins have their own traditional system of property acquisition, which was recognized both by the Ottoman and British rulers, leaving an impression that the registration in the government Land Registry was unnecessary for the recognition and will not be needed.
The Pawer Plan is presented as a “development plan” for the “improvement of living conditions” for all citizens of the Naqab and claimed to be in cooperation with the people living in it. In reality, it was designed and approved without any serious consultation with the Bedouins. Furthermore, the bill fails to take into account the circumstances of each specific unrecognized village and treats all of them as a single entity, without examining the relevant facts in each specific instance.
In September 2011, the Israeli government approved the Prawer Plan, Despite complete rejection of the plan by the Arab Bedouins and strong disapproval from the international community. More than 1,000 houses were demolished in 2011 alone. In March 2012, the UN Committee on the Elimination for Racial Discrimination called on Israel to withdraw the proposed implementing of the Plan, on the grounds that it was discriminatory. In July 2012, the European Parliament passed a historic resolution calling on Israel to Stop the Prawer Plan and its policies of displacement, eviction, and dispossession. Nevertheless in 2013, updated version of the Prawer Plan was approved.
When applied it will lead to a forcible eviction and displacement of dozens of villages and 30,000-40,000 Bedouin residents, who will be stripped of their property and their historical land rights. Thousands of families will be condemned to poverty and unemployment. Adding to that, the communal life and social fabric of these villages which will be destroyed. The plan will recognize around 30 unrecognized Bedouin villages, affording the residents the legal right to ownership of their homes, with a land area of around 48,000 dunams (about 12,000 acres), while the rest of their ancestral territory is confiscated, more than 800,000 dunams of land (about 200,000 acres). The plan implies that the Bedouin population should be concentrated in a specific area in recognized settlements and that no Bedouin settlements will be established beyond this pre-defined area.
At the same time, the Government is simultaneously promoting the establishment of new Jewish communities and military centers, some of which are planned to be built on the ruins of Bedouin villages. Furthermore, the Prawer Plan entails a five-year period for the Bedouins to accept the meager compensation or lose their rights to everything. This is basically a warning from the government and if the Bedouins protest, they will lose what small area they have.
As a contrast, there is no restrictions or bills against expanding the Jewish localities in the area. There are currently over a hundred Jewish settlements in the Be’er Sheva Region, with an average population of approximately 300 people per community. This is in addition to dozens of lone farms, which were established without a permit but the government even put an effort to grant some of them retroactive recognition. Moreover, last October 2011 the government authorized the establishment of ten new Jewish communities in the area of Arad, the same district from which it seeks to evict existing Bedouin villages.
Mohammad Zeidan, general director of the HRA, responded to the decision, “The Bedouin Arabs have a right to live in the lands they own and should not fear encroachment from Jewish settlements. It is inhumane to force an exchange of land for a promise not to destroy homes. The Arab Bedouin land that is confiscated should not be a viewed merely as potential zone of development; this is the source of the Bedouin lifestyle and their livelihood. It destroys their indigenous way of life and forces them to integrate into a society that does not respect their traditions. To force this exchange on the Bedouin of the Naqab is to deny them their human rights.”
Arab Association for Human Rights calls the international community to take the necessary actions and demand the Israeli government to respect the basic human rights and Arab Bedouin’s rights to live peacefully on their indigenous land.