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Israeli Arabs protest plans to relocated Negev Bedouin

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A 2008 photo of an unrecognized Bedouin village in the Negev [Wikipedia photo]

JERUSALEM — Hundreds of Israeli-Arab citizens shut down access to main roads throughout Israel’s North over a government plan to relocate Bedouin settlement in the Negev.

The protests on July 15 came hours after protesters and police clashed during a rally against the plan in Be'er Sheva. Several protesters were injured and 14 were detained, according to Ynet.

Arab-Israeli residents of Wadi Ara and Umm al-Fahm blocked roads in northern Israel, and it took hours for police to clear them away.

Protesters chanted “We’ll give our lives for Palestine,” “Prawer will not pass,” “Israel is a terror state” and “The state wants to expel us from our lands,” according to Ynet. Prawer refers to the name of the bill that would relocate the Bedouin in exchange for compensation.

The demonstrations included a general strike declared by the High Steering Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel.

The Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev, which would compensate Bedouin for land claims and relocate 30,000 Bedouin to recognized communities in the Negev, passed its first reading last month in the Knesset by a vote of 43-40.

Also known as the Prawer Bill or the Prawer-Begin outline because of the work on the bill by former lawmaker Benny Begin, 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.

According to the bill, “the development of the Negev, for the benefit of all of its residents, is a national task of the highest order. In order to realize this national goal to its fullest, the issue of the Bedouin settlement in Negev must first be regularized.”

About 200,000 Bedouin, who are Israeli citizens, live in the Negev.

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