Jewish Home on Riots: Weakness Leads to Violence
The Jewish Home party responded on Saturday night to the Bedouin “Day of Rage”, during which Bedouin and leftist activists held violent protests in the Negev, Haifa, Samaria and Gaza over the "Prawer-Begin Plan" to organize Bedouin residence in the area, where many illegal Bedouin settlements have sprung up on state land.
"If anyone thought the Palestinians’ aspirations end in Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian flags that were waved in Haifa, Jerusalem, the Negev and the Galilee showed the promo for the real plan,” the party said in a statement.
“Weakness leads to violence," emphasized the Jewish Home.
The largest protest on Saturday's "international day of rage" occurred on Highway 31 in the Negev, where over 1,000 demonstrators threw stones at police forces that arrived at the area.
According to eyewitness reports police used tear gas and water cannons in response to the attacks, and Bedouin blocked the highway with burning tractor tires.
Hundreds protested in Haifa, Israel's third largest city which has a large Arab population. Six rioters were arrested there and one police officer was lightly wounded after one of the protesters stabbed him with a sharp object.
The Prawer-Begin bill, which has generated much friction from Arab MKs, will give Negev Bedouin 180,000 dunams (45,000 acres) of state land for free, to set up farming or urban communities, as well as granting them "compensation" for the state land many Bedouin are currently squatting on.
Arab and left-wing opposition comes against the bill, which has to pass 2 more readings to become law, as it would move 30,000-40,000 Bedouins from their illegal outposts and villages, and demolish 40 illegal settlements.
Responding to the riots, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Likud-Beytenu) called them "serious albeit expected."
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke on Saturday evening with the Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Likud-Beytenu) and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino in the wake of the violence. Netanyahu praised the police for their preparedness and determined action to stop the protesters.
He added, “We will bring to justice those lawbreakers and we will not tolerate such disturbances. There is not, nor will there be, any tolerance for lawbreakers. The efforts by a vocal and violent minority to prevent a better future for large population are very serious. We will continue to promote the Prawer-Begin law for a better future for all residents of the Negev."