JERUSALEM (JTA) — In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Arab-Israeli members of the Knesset called the plan to resettle Bedouin “ethnic cleansing.”
The letter, which was delivered to Kerry Thursday during his visit to the region, also said the plan violates international law. It was signed Signed by United Arab List – Ta’al Party lawmakers Ahmed Tibi, Ibrahim Sarsour, Masoud Gnaim and Taleb Abu Arar.
The Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev would compensate Bedouin for land claims and relocate 30,000 Bedouin to recognized communities in the Negev. It passed its first reading in the Knesset in June by a vote of 43-40 and is expected to come up for its second and third readings during the current winter session of the Knesset.
Also known as the Prawer Bill, the legislation also would enable the recognition of unrecognized Bedouin villages, but only within certain designated areas that include plans for infrastructure. Other unrecognized villages would be razed.
About 800 opponents of the plan demonstrated outside the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court Thursday. They also called for the release of over a dozen protesters arrested last Saturday during a demonstration against the plan.