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Israel halts plan that would displace Bedouins

By CNN Staff
updated 1:55 PM EST, Thu December 12, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Israel halted a controversial plan that would have displaced tens of thousands of Bedouins
  • The plan, which angered the Bedouins, did not get enough votes in parliament
  • The aim was to integrate the historic farming community more into Israeli society

(CNN) -- Israel has halted a plan that would have displaced tens of thousands of Bedouins in the southern part of the country.

The controversial plan would have involved destroying "unrecognized" villages in the Negev, and resettling the displaced Bedouin citizens into "recognized" villages.

Benny Begin, a former lawmaker who helped construct the plan, said Thursday it does not have enough votes in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, to move forward.

The Prawer Plan was based on an effort to better integrate Israel's Bedouin population into Israeli society. Following recommendations of a committee chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Eliezer Goldberg, the Israeli Cabinet approved a plan in 2011. The Cabinet also approved more economic development in the Bedouin sector of the Negev, the government said at the time.

But the plan to displace Bedouins sparked anger. Last month, Israeli riot police broke up a demonstration comprising more than 1,000 people who were protesting.

According to Israeli sources, more than 40,000 Bedouins would have been affected by the plan; Bedouin elders estimate the total at more than 70,000.

In a statement Thursday, Begin said he has suggested that the law be halted, but efforts to develop the Bedouin communities in the Negev continue. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "accepted my suggestion," he said.

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