MK Miri Regev
MK Miri RegevIsrael news photo: Flash 90

MK Miri Regev (Likud), head of the Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee, said on Thursday evening that she intends to continue the discussions about the Prawer-Begin Law regulating the illegal Bedouin settlements in the Negev.

Regev’s comments came hours after former minister Benny Begin, who was tasked with implementing the 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.

Revev, however, claimed that despite Begin’s comments, the government does not intend to withdraw the bill.

"As I’ve previously said, the law that was presented to the Knesset must be changed according to the document of understandings exposed to the committee two weeks ago,” she said, adding, “I believed then, as I do now, that it is important and possible to reach a solution and regulate the situation in the Negev...We must put an end to the Bedouin takeover of state land.”

Regev stressed that it is important to reach an understanding with the leaders of the Bedouin community before the law is promoted in the Knesset. Earlier this week, Begin said that despite what the government had been led to believe, the Bedouin leaders did not provide their consent to the plan.

"Once a decision is reached and an outline of a law which expresses the map of Jewish and Bedouin settlement in the Negev is presented, we will promote a law that would make the Negev bloom,” she said.

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.

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.

On Thursday, Begin 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.