Thousands Expected at Protests Throughout Israel, World Against Bedouin Resettlement

Musician Peter Gabriel signs letter in support of protests, calling on U.K. 'to make its relationship with Israel conditional on respect for human rights.'

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Protestors will stage demonstrations throughout Israel and the Palestinian territories on Saturday against the Bedouin resettlement bill known as the Prawer-Begin plan. Young Israeli Arab activists have organized what they call an "international day of rage" together with community organizations to mobilize against the government's plan to relocate some 30,000 Bedouin living in Israel's Negev desert.

The organizers have been campaigning for weeks to drum up support for a series of simultaneous rallies and assemblies that will take place on Saturday at central intersections in the Negev, Jerusalem, Haifa, Ramallah, and Gaza. Thousands are expected to take part in the protests. Local demonstrations will be joined by efforts in Berlin, the Hague, Cairo and other global cities.

"The government is treating us like we are some object that can be moved around," said Huda Abu Abyad, a law school student and activist in the cause. "We are being denied our basic right to determine our own fate – to decide where we will live, and how we will use our property. But we will not give up and we will continue to protest non-violently against [the] Prawer[-Begin Plan]."

Activists are decrying what they say is mounting government repression against residents of the Negev. They cite the arrest last week of Bedouin Sheikh Siakh Abu Mad'am al-Turi, from the unrecognized village of Al-Araqib, who has become a symbol of the struggle against relocating Bedouin to a few concentrated towns.

"The Israeli government apparently has no patience for a democratic process. The government has not bothered to wait for the plan to pass through the Knesset before implementing it on the ground," said 29-year-old Rahat resident and activist Fadi al-Ubra. "Escalations such as the arrest Sheikh Siakh only embolden to stop this plan. We are demonstrating to voice our protest."

Musician Peter Gabriel signed a letter published Friday against the Prawer-Begin Plan. The open letter published on the Guardian newspaper's website calls to support Saturday's demonstration and criticizes the British government for failing to address the issue.

"It is time for the U.K. to make its relationship with Israel conditional on respect for human rights and international law and take concrete action to hold Israel to account," the letters reads.

A protest against the Bedouin resettlement plan in Tel Aviv on November 25, 2013. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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