After fifty years of government inaction while the burgeoning Bedouin population threatens to take over the entire Negev, the government is trying to educate Bedouin against polygamy, which is illegal. Minister of Welfare Yitzchak Herzog (Labor) called polygamy "an epidemic," and Farouk Amrur, chairman of the Beit Berl Jewish-Arab Institute, admitted the government has not dealt with the issue because "it fears confrontation with Bedouin society, even though polygamy is illegal."
The government is trying to deal with the issue through seminars and therapy sessions instead of enforcing the law. The Bedouin population in the Negev has soared from less than 30,000 in the early 1950s to more than 150,000. It is common for men to have two and even four wives, and elderly men in the 60s frequently enter maternity wards with teenage wives.
Bedouin leaders have openly admitted that although the government has allowed polygamy on the claim that it is a religious tradition, they are using the practice to create "facts on the ground" to dominate the Negev.