WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Reform movement urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to set aside legislation that would displace 30,000 Bedouin in the Negev Desert.
Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, said in a letter sent Sunday that the plan under consideration in the Knesset is premature.
The plan, if passed, will move 30,000 Bedouin from their currently unrecognized villages in the Negev into new recognized ones.
“Any plan to resettle members of the Bedouin community must be developed with leaders of that community rather than be forced upon them,” Saperstein wrote in the letter. “The sense of displacement, along with potential for increased poverty and violence, that will accompany the dismantling of unrecognized villages is very real and must be treated with the utmost sensitivity.”
The letter also said any plan must secure “fair compensation” for the Bedouin.