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Write to Minister Yair Shamir to protest any further plans of Bedouin expulsion
From: Yeela Raanan

After seeming to back up in the face of strong protests by Negev Bedouins, the
Netanyahu Government now seems intent on continuing enactment of the `Prawer
Law` (officially, `Bedouin Resettlement Act`), which would mean destruction of
dozens of `unrecognized` Bedouin villages and the displacement of tens of
thousands of people. The hardliner Yair Shamir, Minister of Agriculture, was
placed in charge of implementation - which is in fact going on already by
various daily acts of oppression, even without the Prawer Law being officially
enacted. Last Thursday Negev Bedouins and their supporters from all over the
country re-launched the anti-Prawer campaign in a Beer Sheva protest.

Wherever you are, you can help! Contact Minister Shamir and call on him to ditch
the Prawer Law, once and for all - and to begin a just and inclusive process
that will bring about prosperity for the Bedouin community and the entire Negev
population. Write to him: fax - +972-3-9485835 email: or on

For more information: Atia el-Asam, RCUV chair. 050-570-2064; Yeela Raanan,
RCUV: 054-748-7005 or


Minister Yair Shamir was given charge of the Prawer Law What can we expect?

Early in December it seemed that justice had prevailed, as Minister Beni Begin
announced that he has recommended to the Prime Minister to stop the Prawer Law,
and the Prime Minister agreed. However, only four days later the Knesset
continued to deliberate the law, as if nothing had happened. Now we know that
the Law is still on the table, and that the Minister that has been assigned to
forward it is Yair Shamir, a member in Liberman`s party, the right-winged
partners of our right-winged government.

The Prawer law, officially named `The Law for the Settlement of the Bedouin`, in
fact does not have any settlement component in it. Of this long and convoluted
law, the first 2/3rds are about how to bring to an end the process of land
claims the government started in the early 1970s and had never continued: the
law in effect will erase most of the land claims presented by the Bedouin, while
allowing some meager compensation for few of the Bedouin land owners. The last
part of the Prawer law is a mechanism for village evacuation and destruction
that bypasses the regular legal system and the judicial system. All in all a
horrific law.

It is no wonder that such a law has brought about massive and intense resistance
and that the police is being used to crush this resistance. The violence of
the police in the demonstration of November 30th has brought the conflicts in
the Negev to a new level of aggression. After the demonstration the police
continued to arrest youngsters, trying to instill fear in the community, hoping
this will stop the demonstrations.

Moreover, even though the law has not yet completed the process of legislation,
the government has already created the manpower to implement the law. New police
forces commando trained, new police cars that can easily traverse the desert
terrain and are armored, a bureaucracy of over 60 managers and employees (all
Jewish), along with scores of freelance lawyers and `mediators`, have been
employed in the two offices created to implement the law: `The Authority for the
Settlement of the Bedouin`, and `The Implementation Unit for the Prawer Law`.
Both headed by ex-security high ranking officers as the Bedouin are not seen
as civil issue, but rather as a security issue.

The law is being implemented even before it has been legislated: weekly home
demolitions all around the Negev. The village of Im-El-Hiran, which is one of
the first slotted for erasure, is being `measured` in preparation of the
building of the Jewish settlement to replace the existing Bedouin village. The
new and combat trained police forces are itching for action, and this can be
seen in every opportunity that they receive. Even if the Prawer law is halted in
the Knesset, this massive apparatus already has a life of its own

The government map for the Bedouin settlement was presented in the Knesset. It
completely ignores the existence of several Bedouin villages not surprisingly
it ignores Im el Hiran. It also ignores the Wadi Naam with its 10,000
residents. Then it goes on to claim that the lands of another 10-15 villages
will be `returned to the government`. These lands have never been owned by the
government, as they are the lands claimed by the Bedouin in the 1970`s and that
the government never processed. These 15 villages are to be erased, and their
inhabitants are to be settled in urban neighborhoods of other villages and
towns. The remaining villages (about 15) are to be concentrated on a fraction of
the land available to them today in effect to become neighborhoods of the
close by towns. The Bedouin villages now are sitting on less than 3% of the
Negev lands, and this is very minimal land for an agrarian community. After the
implementation of this map they will be allowed to live on only 1% of the
Negev lands with no access to the land so necessary for the income and
wellbeing of the community. The `cleared out` 2% of Negev (desert) lands are to
remain clear clean of Bedouins.

The RCUV together with Bimkom (planners for human rights) and Sidreh (Bedouin
women`s empowerment organization) and headed by Prof. Oren Yiftahel are at the
final stages of creating a Bedouin settlement master plan. This plan was created
in the manner the government should have created its plans for the Bedouin:
basing it on the community needs as well as the principals of planning accepted
in Israel. Furthermore, if follows the principles of equality. This master plan
shows that there is no need to remove, erase or concentrate any of the Bedouin
villages. We call upon Minister Shamir and the Government of Israel to adopt
this master plan and to implement policies that are based on equality and human
dignity, and that will begin the process of healing from the 60 years of harmful
policies towards its Bedouin citizens.

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