Arab members of Israel’s Knesset (parliament) have warned of the consequences of Tel Aviv’s recent plan to force out 30,000 Arab Bedouins from their villages in Naqab desert, Press TV reports.
“We demand the prime minister’s office to recognize these villages. If not, we will all rise against this policy, not just Bedouins but all the 1.2 million Arabs in Israel,” Ibrahim Sarsour, an Arab member of Knesset, told Press TV.
On Sunday, the Israeli cabinet approved a plan, known as the Prawer Plan, which recommends uprooting some 30,000 Palestinian Bedouins from the Naqab desert and relocating them to nearby Arab towns and villages. The plan also puts 20 villages under the threat of demolition.
“This is by far the most dangerous phase Palestinians have faced since 1948. More than 140,000 acres have been confiscated by Israel. This is not just about Israel’s racist policies. It is a war against our very existence,” said Hanin Zoubil, another Arab Knesset member.
Bedouins say they have long traversed the Naqab and insist that they remain in their ancestral land, accusing Israel of making plans to build more Jewish settlements.
Critics say that Arabs were neither involved nor consulted in formulating the plan and that the committee behind the scheme was heavily influenced by rightwing Israelis.
They also said that they are deeply surprised by the decision to refer the matter to Israel’s National Security Council as this would suggest that Bedouins were regarded as a threat to Israel.
Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International (AI) have criticized Israel’s decision, calling it a serious blow to Bedouins’ rights to proper housing. They say the plan does not conform to Israel’s international human rights obligations.
AI also said that international standards required Tel Aviv to consult the Bedouin population on such a plan.