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What next for the Beduin?
The Knesset Interior Committee is set to continue its debate on the Beduin issue on Monday, despite the government decision to freeze the controversial Prawer-Begin bill.
The Knesset Interior Committee is set to continue its debate on the Beduin issue on Monday, despite the government decision to freeze the controversial Prawer-Begin bill.

A meeting to deal with Beduin violence in response to the bill is also scheduled.

Coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) told The Jerusalem Post that the bill that was under consideration requires changes and a detailed map needs to be included in any plan, delineating exactly what land the Beduin and Jews would receive.

In addition, he said the bill should call for quick implementation and not give away land to those who have no rights on it.

Asked what would happen if the Left, Beduin, Arab parties, NGOs, and their supporters would resist any such plan, especially if it is less generous than the previous plan, Levin responded that the law would provide the necessary tools for the state to carry out the law and deal with any violence.

Committee chairwoman MK Miri Regev (Likud) and other Knesset members still hope the committee can come up with a better bill.

The Right is likely to come up with a bill less generous to the Beduin, while the Left and the Arab parties are likely to seek a bill that meets Beduin demands.

Hence, it is more likely that any future bill that comes to the Knesset will be more polarizing than the Prawer-Begin bill was.

Former Likud minister Bennie Begin announced on Thursday the government decision to suspend the government-backed Beduin resettlement bill, pleasing opponents of the reform on the left and right.

The Prawer-Begin bill is a five-year economic development initiative seeking to regulate Beduin settlement in the South. It aims for a compromise solution for tens of thousands of Beduin scattered in unrecognized villages throughout the Negev, legalizing 63 percent of claimed land.

Beduin supporters oppose the bill because they say the legislation would result in up to 40,000 Beduin losing their land.

Opponents on the right criticize the bill as too generous, saying the state would be giving away land for free that Beduin could not prove to be theirs in court.

Last week, the Prime Minister’s Office held a tour of the Negev for the press. The Headquarters for Economic & Community Development of the Negev Beduin in the Prime Minister’s Office explained the dire situation.

According to Ami Tesler, a senior official working on the Beduin issue in the Prime Minister’s Office, there are 80,000- 90,000 Beduin living in unrecognized settlements.

Doron Almog has been in charge of the department that handles Beduin issues since 2012.

He told reporters that the goal of the plan was to improve the quality of life for the Beduin – moving them “from poverty to modernity.”

It is unclear what his office’s role would be going forward and if it would carry out an alternative plan if it would pass the Knesset.

In one new neighborhood near Rahat meant for resettling Beduin, Almog’s office had been offering single 24-yearolds a free lot on which to build a house. Married couples would receive a free lot plus around NIS 100,000, which could cover most of the building expenses.

In this new Beduin neighborhood, the government is responsible for infrastructure, estimated by an official involved in the construction project to be around a few billion shekels.

These offerings were on the condition that Beduin agreed to evacuate their land.
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