Over 50 artists, writers, academics, trade union leaders, activists and politicians have today signed a letter against the Prawer Plan, published in the Guardian.
Author Gillian Slovo, sculptor Antony Gormley, directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, musicians Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno, actor Julie Christie, fashion designer Bella Freud, artists Jeremy Deller, Cornelia Parker and John Akomfrah, broadcaster Bidisha, psychoanalyst and author Dr Susie Orbach, writers Jemima Khan and Marina Warner, joined with MPs Caroline Lucas, Sir Gerald Kaufman and Jeremy Corbyn, trade union leaders Christine Blower, Billy Hayes, Len McClusky and Mick Whelan, and academics Jacqueline Rose, Karma Nabulsi, Nur Masalha and Ilan Pappe.
The letter pointed out that, if implemented, the Prawer-Begin Plan ‘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. It means forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes and land, and systematic discrimination and separation. The Israeli government is pushing ahead with this plan despite the Palestinian Bedouin community’s complete rejection of the plan, and condemnation from human rights groups’. The signatories call on ‘the UK government to make its relationship with Israel conditional on respect for human rights and international law and take concrete action to hold Israel to account.’
Hugh Lanning, Chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, one of the signatories, highlighted the range of voices speaking out against the Prawer Plan, and the protests taking place worldwide on 30 November: ‘there is massive opposition to Israel’s practices of ethnic cleansing. Palestinians are demanding their fundamental human rights are respected. Yet again, Palestinians are facing being driven off their land at the end of the barrel of Israeli guns. The British Government must act: carefully worded statements of regret or concern to the Israel state have had no impact, so immediate, strong and meaningful action, including a ban on the arms trade with Israel, is essential. There can be no ‘business as usual’ with a state which is preparing to ethnically cleanse 70,000 people. It’s time to start challenging Israel’s racism and apartheid policies’.
Explaining why she signed the letter, writer and broadcaster Bidisha said: ‘How do you violate a person or a people? You do something to them which they do not want, using violence, threat, blackmail, coercion or trickery, in order to exercise your power, establish your dominance and make yourself feel big.
‘How do you violate a place? You arrive and change its nature by force. You push people, literally and with guns in their faces, with threats of harm to their parents and children, out of a place. You splinter communities, instil fear and cause deliberate harm. Again, to exercise your power, establish your dominance and make yourself feel big.That does not make you a strong power. It makes you a perpetrator of abuse.’
Actor and screenwriter, Andy de la Tour, said: ‘If implemented the Prawer Plan will be just the latest in a long and sorry list of forced displacements – ‘ethnic cleansing’ by any other name – of non-Jewish communities that Israel has carried out since 1948. Up to 70,000 Arab Bedouins, though Israeli citizens, will be forcibly uprooted from their homes and their villages razed if the so-called international community stands idly by, as it has so often done in the past. Voices must be raised to stop Israel yet again flouting international law and defying world opinion.’
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, from the British Committee for Universities for Palestine, said: “The Bedouins of the Negev are denied their land, and the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories are denied free movement, access to education and the development of their culture” said Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, Chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine. “These are all parts of Israel’s attempt, doomed to ultimate failure, to eliminate Palestinian national identity”