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Press Release Friday 7th June, 2013 65 Rabbis from the Orthodox, Liberal, Reform and Masorti movements of Great Britain this week have joined together to sign a letter of protest to the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ministers Yair Lapid (Finance), Tzipi Livni (Justice) and Meir Cohen (Welfare and Social Services), demanding that they stop the legislative process of the Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev through the Israeli Parliament. A copy of the letter, written under the auspices of the British Friends of Rabbis for Human Rights (BFRHR) was delivered to His Excellency, the Israeli Ambassador by Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner (Chair of BFRHR) and a delegation from BFRHR on Thursday 6th June. If the Bill is passed, it would result in the forcible eviction of 30,000-40,000 Bedouin residents from their villages in the Negev into existing townships. Moving the Bedouin, they argue, ‘disregards traditional family and kinship ties and the communal and social fabric of their villages and has already been shown to result in disastrous levels of unemployment, destitution and disillusion.’ The BFRHR letter appeals for a proper consultative process with Bedouin men and women to settle land claims and recognise the Bedouin’s historic rights to their lands, leading to the provision of proper services for their villages and attention to the long-term needs of the Bedouin. The Rabbis warn that the Bill is likely to do serious damage to the international reputation of the State of Israel. Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Chair of BFRHR said, ‘The Ambassador listened carefully to our
questions and concerns. Now what matters is that this Bill that could drastically alter so many people's lives is challenged in the Knesset as it is being challenged throughout the world.’

Spokesperson for the BFRHR, Rabbi Alexandra Wright added that the Bill is unjust and unfair in its discrimination against an impoverished and marginalised minority in Israel and that she earnestly hoped that the Ministers would, instead, provide a fair and compassionate process that would enhance Israel’s international standing.

Information for journalists: British Friends of Rabbis for Human Rights supports the work of the Israeli organisation Rabbis for Human Rights http://rhr.org.il/eng/about/ Rabbis for Human Rights is the only rabbinic voice of conscience in Israel, defending human rights of marginalized communities within Israel and the Palestinian Territories. The organization was founded in 1988, and today has over 100 members-all Israelis and all ordained Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Renewal rabbis as well as some rabbinical students. For more information on the Bedouin issues, see http://rhr.org.il/eng/category/bedouinrights/ http://www.dukium.org/eng/ Negev Co-existence Forum for Civil Equality http://www.acri.org.il/en/category/arab-citizens-of-israel/negev-bedouins-andunrecognized-villages/ The Association for Civil Rights in Israel British Friends for Rabbis for Human Rights: Chair Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner rabbilaura@reformjudaism.org.uk; Treasurer: Rabbi Danny Rich D.Rich@liberaljudaism.org; Spokesperson: Rabbi Alexandra Wright alexandra@kvish.co.uk ; Tel: 07976 930 112 

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