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Israel defends 'Racist' Bedouin removal policy

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Israeli government officials have rushed to defend the forced removal of up to 40,000 Israeli citizens of Arab descent from their homes in the Negev to new towns amid a growing clamour of protest and accusations that the policy is racist, Sky News reports.

A bill that would enshrine the removal of thousands of Bedouin from their traditional lands and end a rural way of life dating back centuries is currently before the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

But the removals have already begun.

Dozens of homes built in what the government calls "unrecognised villages" have been bulldozed over the last few years.

And the village of Umm al Hiran has been served notice that it will be flattened, its 500 residents forced out, and a Jewish development built in its place.

Such events are commonplace on the Israeli occupied West Bank where Palestinians face severe construction limitations while illegal Jewish settlements continue a concrete march across Palestinian lands.

But the Negev plans in the Prawer-Begin Bill affect Bedouin who are ethnically Arab - but also full Israeli citizens.

Rabi Arik Ascherman, President of Rabbis for Human Rights, an Israeli human rights organisation said: "We are without a doubt treating the Bedouin in a way that we would not treat Jews in this country.

"The fact that the government has decided to build a Jewish community right where we're standing that Jewish community will get all of the services, all of the infrastructure, and there will be no question about it."

The Israeli plan is to move some 90,000 Bedouin from 36 villages into seven existing towns and another 11 which will be given recognition.

The controversial plan is being run directly from the offices of Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister.

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Location: Izrael
Location: Izrael
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