Gov't Expected to Approve Illegal Bedouin Construction

Bedouins to receive 1.2 billion shekels, free lots for construction. Illegal buildings to be approved retroactively.

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Gil Ronen,

Bedouin roam the desert
Bedouin roam the desert
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The government will approve Sunday a large scale plan for improving the lot of the Bedouin population in the Negev, and an NGO that safeguards Jewish land says the plan is a disastrous one. According to Regavim, the government is adopting a "carrot and stick" approach to the Bedouins but is highly unlikely to implement the "stick."

Some pro-Bedouin activists are also upset with the plan, which they say calls for relocation of tens of thousands of Bedouin instead of recognizing the illegal settlements they established in the Negev. 

The Cabinet will approve the Praver Report, which relates to the implementation of the Goldberg Committee Report in the matter of the Bedouins. In addition, it will submit to the Knesset a law for regulating the Bedouin settlement in the Negev and appoint Minister Benny Begin to head a committee that will supervise an "Authority for Regulating Bedouin Settlement in the Negev."

Regavim accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of mounting a political ambush by bringing the plan to a vote Sunday. It called the plan "anti-social and anti-Zionist" and accused Netanyahu of purposely bringing it to the Cabinet during the Knesset recess, while national attention is distracted by the housing protest.

"Ben Gurion is rolling over in his grave," the NGO stated, in a reference to Israel's first prime minister, who saw great importance in Jewish settlement of the Negev. "This is a dreadful and dangerous plan. Just when everyone is talking about the lack of land reserves in the country, the government is transferring 250,000 dunams to private Bedouin hands that will just raise the price of housing. Just when everyone is talking about the distress of the middle class, the Prime Minister advances a plan that will give 1.2 billion shekels to the Bedouin populace, 'launder' tens of thousands of illegal homes and hand out land parcels and cash, free of charge, while the middle class and discharged soldiers in the periphery have nowhere to live."

The group predicted that the state would wind up handing over huge territories to the Bedouin and pay them immense amounts in compensation, but the Bedouin will continue their takeovers of state land. "If the plan offers a carrot and stick," said the NGO's head Betzalel Smutrich, "we can expect that in the current state of ungovernability and lack of enforcement, Israel will give the carrot but will not implement the stick."