March for Bedouin Rights in Israel Set to Reach President’s Residence

Representatives of all the major Arab parties are expected to be on hand, even though President Reuven Rivlin is out of the country.

Jack Khoury
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Dozens march for Bedouin rights, March 26, 2015.Credit: Ilan Assayag
Jack Khoury

A march from the Negev to draw attention to unrecognized Bedouin communities is due to arrive in Jerusalem on Sunday and help give this Arab minority a voice.

The 100-kilometer march, which started out Thursday at the unrecognized community of Wadi al-Na’am, arrived Saturday night at the Arab town of Abu Ghosh on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The marchers are expected to reach their destination at the President’s Residence at 2:30 P.M.

Participants are due to hold a press conference at the residence, where they will present a master plan for recognizing their communities based on research by planning rights association Bimkom and Negev Bedouin women’s association Sidra.

The plan will stress the benefits of recognizing the unrecognized villages for both Arab and Jewish residents of the Negev.

Hanan al-Sana of Sidra, a high-profile social activist in the Negev, said the march restored hope. “The alternative recognition plan is the only plan that provides a response and takes into account the residents of the villages and includes them in the proposed solutions,” she said.

President Reuven Rivlin had agreed to receive the marchers, but Rivlin will be in Singapore for the funeral of former President Lee Kuan Yew. Organizers considered postponing the march but decided to proceed. They will be met by the president’s wife, Nehama Rivlin, and will have an official meeting with the president next week.

Some members of the Joint List of Arab parties criticized the decision not to postpone the march, but representatives of all the parties in the Joint List are expected to be on hand. Also taking part will be heads of local councils, representatives of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, the Regional Council for Unrecognized Villages and residents of 46 of these villages.

A festive greeting awaited the marchers in Abu Ghosh Saturday night, including a musical performance featuring the popular Arab singer Amal Murkus.

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