Deputy Economy Minister Yair Golan (Meretz) spoke to a number of Bedouin in the Negev Wednesday and asked them to calm tensions which have arisen over the planting of trees by the Jewish National Fund in the region.
"[Ze'ev] Elkin went nuts? Okay, we will calm him down. Someone will calm him down. Remember he has no power in the government. If tomorrow morning we say to him 'Honey, if you do not stop it then tomorrow we will no longer vote for the government's bills,'" Golan said in a video published by journalist Amit Segal.
Golan emphasized to the Bedouin: "Today you have power in the government that the Bedouin in the Negev never had. And not only Ra'am. Meretz will protect your interests, I hope Labor will as well. I can tell you that Meir Cohen from Yesh Atid is with you. Alon Schuster from Blue and White is with you. We set up an agricultural lobby in the Knesset. What is the problem?"
"We need to work smart," Yair Golan advised them. "Do what is necessary on the ground, there is a very strong lobby for the Bedouin in the Knesset. Let it work. I was surprised by this, I did not know that the tractors were going to the field this morning. I do not know that."
Religious Zionism party chairman MK Bezalel Smotrich responded on Twitter: "Do what is necessary on the ground. Yair Golan explicitly incites the Bedouin to terrorism and violence against the State of Israel, its police and its citizens. There is no bottom to the pit in which this poor partner of Ayelet Shaked and her friends sinks."
Earlier, Welfare Minister Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) reached an agreement with the Negev Bedouin to immediately cease planting trees in the Negev.
Cohen, who has been charged with reaching agreements with the Bedouin, said that the tractors would leave the area during the course of Wednesday, following which the two sides would sit for negotiations in order to reach an agreement on the issue.
MK Bezalel Smotrich, who heads the Knesset's Religious Zionism party, responded: "This is a sad day for the Jewish state. The Israeli government has caved to terror and violence by Hamas' branch in Israel. The State of Israel has been sold to the Islamic Movement, and there is no red line that this government will not cross in order to survive politically."
"Suspending the planting on State lands, as a capitulation to Ra'am, is an embarrassment which cannot be forgiven. The Bennett-Abbas government is endangering the continuation of the Zionist enterprise."
The Regavim Movement slammed the decision to suspend the KKL forestation project in southern Israel, accusing the government of making "protection payments" to MK Mansour Abbas (United Arab List) and making the next round of violence and domestic terrorism inevitable.
"The Ra'am Party and the Bedouin know full well that they can dictate to the government through the use of political pressure, strong-arm tactics and violence," Regavim said. "When you cave in to terrorism and blackmail, you invite the next round of violence."
"[Israeli Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett and [Interior Minister Ayelet] Shaked (Yamina) have repeatedly asked that the 'government of change' be judged by actions, not words. Today, the government's decision to surrender to terrorism and to suspend the planting project is a an action that speaks louder than words. The words we’re hearing are Ayelet Shaked's – but the tune the government is dancing to is being sung by Mansour Abbas."