Draft law passed to regulate Beduin settlement

Proposed map would clearly demarcate Negev land, provide for new Jewish community near Arad.

View of illegal beduin settlements  (photo credit: Ariel Ben Solomon)
View of illegal beduin settlements
(photo credit: Ariel Ben Solomon)
On Monday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation reviewed a draft law known as the Prawer-Begin plan for regulating Beduin settlement in the Negev.
The Jerusalem Post received a statement from the office of Bayit Yehudi MK Ayelet Shaked stating that the bill was passed after some changes were made to garner the support of those in opposition.
Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) came to an agreement with Benny Begin, who has been responsible for putting together and promoting his plan for resolving the Beduin issue.
The first demand that was met in the redrafted proposal was an agreement to first draw up a specific map that includes exact details of the plan, which delineates the areas that would be given to Beduin and those reserved for the state or Jewish settlement. Second, a ministerial committee headed by the Prime Minister will be established to monitor the implementation of the plan. Third, the timetable of the plan would be shortened from five years to three. And fourth, a Jewish settlement would be established on the outskirts of Arad in the Negev.
Both the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights voiced their strong opposition to the approval, stating in a press release that the government should promote the planning and recognition of Beduin villages to insure Beduin rights, and not support the expulsion and destruction of Beduin villages.
ACRI lawyer Rawia Aburabia told the Post that the Right sees this “from a demographic and security issue,” adding that “from our perspective it is a human rights issue.
“We are opposing the law because it is a mechanism that is brutal and anti-democratic, and will impose a solution where around 40,000 people will be evicted from their homes and will lose the rights on their historic land,” added Aburabia. She called for equal treatment of Jews and Beduin in Israel.
Amnesty International said the proposal does not adequately protect the Beduin from being expelled from their homes.
Shani Sokol, communications and publications director for Amnesty International Israel, told The Jerusalem Post that their organization will review the process and continue the battle against the proposal in the Knesset by lobbying MKs to oppose the bill.
Ari Briggs – international director for Regavim, an NGO that seeks to ensure responsible, legal and accountable use of Israel’s national lands – told the Post that the current plan “is not one that will solve the issues, so we want to go back to discussions to guarantee success,” he said.
Briggs said he was uncomfortable that his organization was opposing the bill, thus putting it on the same side like organizations such as Amnesty and Adala, but “the reason for our opposition is very different from theirs.” “We want to see a fair solution, but we want it to be based on Zionist principles on the equal application of the law to both Jews and Arabs,” said Briggs.
“Our interests shouldn’t be based just on compassion but also effectiveness. Having a plan just for the sake of having a plan is not the idea. We need a plan that’s actually going to work and achieve its goals. As such it needs to go back to the committee for further fine-tuning,” he said.
Regavim’s southern region director Amichai Yogev told the Post that it is not true that the Begin plan calls for the relocation of 40,000 Beduin.
“The Beduin say today that they don’t want to move from anywhere and want all the land. Under the current plan, they will all be able to stay where they are.”
There is only one Beduin settlement – Wadi el-Naam – that would need to be relocated under the Begin plan, Yogev said, adding that the only reason for this was its proximity to a toxic chemical site.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, a lawyer and political activist for the Strong Israel party – which failed to secure any Knesset seats in the recent elections – was furious that Bayit Yehudi went along with the plan, stating that the national-religious party has abandoned its principles and ideology from when it was in the opposition.
“They are forgetting where they came from and their values, they always talked about this plan, that it was giving up land and legalizing illegal buildings,” and now he said, they are agreeing to these plans.
Ben-Gvir said that Regavim is backed by MK Ariel, so it is unfortunate that he is going against it and acting like Ariel Sharon, who withdrew from Gaza.
“The same argument was made for withdrawing from Gush Katif [in Gaza]. They think concessions will solve the problem,” said Ben-Gvir.
Ariel will become “the hero of the Beduin and is going to create a Bedouin state,” he added.
Former Likud minister Benny Begin proposed a plan for regulating the land of the Bedouin in 2012. The plan has drawn opposition from both the Right, which argued that it would give away too much and not solve the problem, and from the Left, which claims that it is not generous enough.
The Regional Council of Unrecognized Arab Villages of the Negev – along with the High Steering Committee of the Arabs of the Negev – organized a protest on Monday outside of the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem, denouncing the plan’s approval, reported the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency.
MK Ibrahim Sarsour (United Arab List-Ta’al) told the demonstrators that his party rejected the recommendations and urged the Arab public to use legal means to try and prevent its implantation, according to the report.