Israeli minister looks to revive controversial Bedouin resettlement bill
Israel’s agriculture minister, Uri Ariel, has reportedly been trying to revive a controversial bill to demolish Bedouin settlements in the Negev desert.
Arab48 reports that Ariel, a member of the ultra-conservative Jewish Home party, has been witnessed circulating draft copies of the bill, sometimes referred to as the Prawer Plan, which calls for the confiscation of Bedouin land.
The Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev was first drawn up in 2011, but was shelved in 2013 after it received fierce opposition from civil society groups and various politicians, including most notably, Uri Ariel.
The bill also faced heavy criticism from the UN and the European Union as the plan is essentially viewed as a land-grab operation that robs the local population of their property.
“Arab Bedouin communities, threatened by Israeli policies undermining their livelihoods and including forced transfer, are a particularly vulnerable population both in the occupied Palestinian Territory and in the Negev," said the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in a statement.
Ariel was later appointed minister in charge of rehousing the Bedouin population in the Negev desert, as most Bedouin settlements in the region are not recognised by the Israeli state.
In July 2016, this plan resulted in a new project, led by Ariel, to build the first state-approved settlement in the Negev for fifteen years. The new village is 2200 acres in size and is designed to house 9000 residents.
According to a recent report by the Negev Co-existence Forum, Israeli forces demolished a total of 2,452 Bedouin structures in the Negev between 2013 and 2015.