Israel halts controversial relocation plan for Arab Bedouins
Jerusalem – Israel Thursday halted a controversial legislation to transfer 40,000 Arab Bedouins citizens from their villages, amidst mounting opposition by activists and senior members of the coalition.
The so-called Prawer Bill is aimed at displacing about half of the Negev’s indigenous Bedouin population from about 40 villages, and resettling them in government-built impoverished towns.
The government said the plan is needed to “modernise” the Bedouins and for settling numerous land disputes, Xinhua reported.
The architect of plan, former minister Benny Begin, said Thursday in a press conference that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accepted his recommendation to halt the drafting of the bill in the Knesset (parliament).
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister Office did not say whether the plan was cancelled or temporarily postponed.
The plan has caused much protests and condemnation, including by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that denounced it as “discriminatory.” Last month, it also stoked mass protests across Israel and the West Bank that were dispersed by the! police with heavy use of tear gas and stun grenades.