Shamir to Replace Begin in Bedouin Land Plan Discussions
Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir (Likud Beytenu) is expected to replace former minister Benny Begin as the person in charge of implementing the law regulating Bedouin settlement in the Negev, it was reported on Monday.
Officials in Shamir’s office said in response that negotiations on the matter are ongoing and that there has not yet been an official letter of appointment for the position.
Last Thursday, Begin, who was originally tasked with implementing the plan known as the Prawer Plan, said he had recommended to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to "end the debate on the law" in parliament and that Netanyahu had accepted this proposal.
The plan, which the Knesset has approved in a first reading, gives Negev Bedouin 180,000 dunams (45,000 acres) of state land for free, additionally granting them "compensation" for the state land many Bedouin are currently squatting on.
Arab and left-wing opposition to the bill focuses on it moving 30,000-40,000 Bedouins from illegal outposts and villages, and demolishing 40 illegal settlements. It also faced intense objection from nationalist MKs, who said the compensation offered in land and money was too generous.
Despite Begin’s comments, MK Miri Regev (Likud), head of the Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee, has indicated that she intends to continue the discussions about the Prawer Plan.
Negev Bedouin recently held a “Day of Rage” over the plan, during which rioters threw stones at police forces that arrived at the area. Arab MK Ahmed Tibi was caught on video trying to prevent the detainment of a boy who had taken part in the violence.
Begin, however, denied that the violent protests led to the decision to shelve the plan, saying that it simply did not have a majority in the coalition.