Activists protest at Israeli embassy against the 'Prawer Plan' - the ethnic cleansing of 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins. Ellen Graubart reports
The fifth London solidarity protest against the Prawer Plan took place on Sunday 30th March, outside the entrance to the Israeli embassy, on Kensington High Street, on Land Day
Land Day became consecrated in the Palestinian memory after tens of thousands of Palestinians citizens of Israel protested on 30th March in 1976 against the Israeli government's plans to expropriate a further 60,000 dunams of Palestinian-owned land in the Galilee. During the protest Six Palestinians were killed and hundreds were wounded by the Israeli police, and hundreds were jailed.
Last year, the Israeli knesset approved the Prawer Plan, the implementation of which will result in the destruction of more than 35 Palestinian towns and villages in Al-Naqab (Negev) in the south of Israel and the expulsion and confinement of up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins, forcibly displacing them from their homes and land, and re-housing them in urban slum conditions, where they will be subjected to systematic discrimination and separation and become cheap labourer for Israeli industries, such as the notorious Sodastream.
The Palestinian Bedouin community has lived in the area for hundreds of years. They have completely rejected this plan which has been imposed upon them, without any consultation on their part, and which has been condemned by human rights groups. Nevertheless the Israeli government is pushing ahead in great haste with the forced removal of the Palestinian Bedouin. According to the Guardian:
"The international community has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the Prawer Plan. In March 2012, the UN Committee on the Elimination for Racial Discrimination called on Israel to withdraw the proposed implementing legislation of the Prawer Plan, on the grounds that it was discriminatory. In July 2012, the European Parliament passed a historic resolution calling on Israel to Stop the Prawer Plan and its policies of displacement, eviction, and dispossession."
The UK government emphasises that it has raised concerns "at the highest levels" about the forced displacement of Bedouin Palestinians, yet it continues to export arms to Israel and continues its ties with the Israeli government and industry.
The demonstration on Sunday, organised by Yael Kahn and supported by members of Stop the JNF, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and others, was small but enthusiastic. Hundreds of leaflets were handed out to the public, explaining:
“70,000 Palestinian Bedouins in the Naqab/Negev are being ethnic cleansed to create settlements for Jews only.”
“Stop the travesty of Israel exiling the indigenous Palestinians & enticing UK Jews with financial incentives to immigrate for colonisation.”
“Israel Lied:The Bedouins were not consulted and the mass expulsion of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship has already began with the destruction of el Araqeeb 66 times in the last 3 years (latest on 12 March). The JNF (Jewish National Fund) is facilitating this forced transfer and its bulldozers destroy homes and uproot fruit trees.”
Several of the demonstrators delivered short speeches which were then followed by chanting. The speeches informed people of the brutal truth about Palestinian life in Israel and the Occupied Territories. The truth is truly awful, which is made difficult to spread with an unwilling and biased press.
One of the problems the campaign is facing is that the Prawer Bill of 2013 appeared to be “frozen”, giving the false illusion the campaign has been won. In fact, a yet more oppressive version of it could be unveiled as early as May in the summer Knesset session and passed very quickly. In the meantime, on the ground, demolitions and evictions continue to enact the concept of the Prawer Plan. In charge of this intensified ethnic cleansing are General Almog (who had arrest warrant against him in the UK for war crimes of mass demolitions and evictions in Gaza) and the Minister in charge - Yair Shamir (son of the Irgun's Yitzhak Shamir)
Follow the campaign against the Prawer/Shamir Plan on Facebook: Stop Forced Removal of Palestinian Bedouins
Ellen Graubart was born in India of American parents and came to London from Virginia as a teenager to study art. She lives and works as an artist in Hackney. She is a member of Counterfire, Stop the War and Hackney Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
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