Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai claims that the Israeli government did not surrender on the issue of the planting of trees in the Negev ahead of the festival of Tu B'Shevat.
"The government did not surrender to the Bedouin. The government negotiated through Minister Meir Cohen," said Minister Shai in an interview with 103FM.
He said, "Whoever sits in the coalition and the coalition depends on him knows how to use his power. Sometimes it is Ra'am, sometimes it is the haredim and sometimes it is a third party. We are a coalition of eight parties that is difficult to run, but we manage to do it with great success. We will not give up on Zionism or the Negev. The country is being forested and we will continue to plant and invest in the development of the south to make it a flourishing region."
Minister Shai claimed, "I see the spread of the Bedouin, I am not naïve, but I went into their localities and saw the poverty - it is a disgrace to the State of Israel that children live in such conditions. I hope Minister Meir Cohen will reach a compromise with them. The intention is to reach a situation where the Bedouin will move to defined areas where they will be able to live."
"We could have done better and had to examine the difficulties that were seen in the previous rounds of planting and know what stopped them then, and how not to repeat these mistakes. Something happened here that should not have happened," he concluded.