As a key component of Ameinu’s social justice agenda for Israel, we have long championed a just resolution to land issues in the Negev that respects the Bedouin community’s rights and honors Israel’s democracy as a state of all of its citizens. Most recently, Ameinu, in consultation with AJEEC-NISPED and other partners in Israel, issued a statement and urged activists in the United States and Canada to appeal to the Israeli government to suspend consideration of the Pawer-Begin bill, which had already passed on first reading in the Knesset.
News reports out of Israel today confirm that the Israeli government has decided to follow the approach suggested by Ameinu and other Israeli and Diaspora groups engaged in supporting the Bedouin community. This decision is cause for cautious celebration since a bill that was expected to result in the forced removal of approximately 40,000 Bedouin men, women and children for now is off the table. And a primary reason for pulling the bill was an issue that Ameinu had raised — the failure of the government to appropriately engage the Bedouin community in finding a solution to this challenging issue.
While we applaud the government for taking this step, Ameinu remains concerned that elements in the government will use today’s decision as an excuse to introduce legislation that is even more punitive towards Bedouins than the Prawer-Begin bill. Instead, as recommended in Ameinu’s statement, we will continue to advocate that Israeli democracy and just treatment of the Bedouin are best served through a consultative process based the Alternative Master Plan, which presents a diverse and agreed upon planning solution based on the existing Bedouin settlements.
Background Stories on the Latest Developments: