Southern District police head with Beduin leaders 370.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Former minister Bennie Begin presented the Knesset Interior Committee on
Wednesday with his proposed law to regulate Arab settlement in the Negev within
Begin said the Prawer-Begin plan – which passed its first
reading in the Knesset but returned to the committee for debate – would improve
the quality of life for all residents of the Negev.
“For 30 years, only
200 Beduin land ownership claims were handled by the courts, out of a total of
3,200,” he said. “Without a law, no building plan can be promoted, and not
having a law to deal with the issue is not healthy for anyone.”
is facing opposition from both ends of the political spectrum: The Left and the
Arab parties claim the plan is not generous enough, while the Right argues that
it is too generous.
Attending the initial committee debate were numerous
NGOs that support the Beduin, and many of the Arab MKs.
that we be treated as equal citizens,” stated MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab
List-Ta’al). “You will not find one area in which we are equal.”
called for an equal allocation of land and pointed out that many defense
officials were behind the plan, demonstrating that the state saw Arabs as an
enemy and not as citizens.
Amichai Yogev – the southern regional director
of the NGO Regavim, which describes itself as aiming to ensure responsible,
legal and accountable use of the country’s land – told The Jerusalem Post on
Wednesday that it seemed that everyone there wanted to change the
“Regavim is working now on two levels. First, it is trying to stop
the law. Second, we are seeking to make changes to the law just in the
case the law passes, in order to improve the bill so that it will not be as bad
as it is now,” said Yogev.
UAL-Ta’al MK Taleb Abu Arar said the
government was scared of what he called the right-wing-extremist Regavim, and
that it was carrying out the organization’s wishes.
director of the Land and Planning Rights Unit at the NGO Adalah – The Legal
Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, told the Post that the hearings were
likely to go on for a few weeks so as to give everyone a chance to
“We are trying to do the maximum to prevent [the plan] from
passing. It is a very bad law for everyone, legally and politically,” she
Pro-Beduin NGOs such as Adalah are trying to recruit as many
Knesset members as possible to vote against the plan, said
However, in the event that the bill passes, she continued,
Adalah has already begun planning for how to challenge the bill in
She added that there had been positive international responses
from the EU, UN, and human rights NGOs, criticizing the plan.