Israel’s government on Sunday approved the recommendations of Minister without portfolio Benny Begin to change the program regulating Bedouin settlements in the Negev. The reform is aimed at solving definitively the issue of Bedouin ownership claims on Negev lands, including a compromise proposal of relocation and financial compensation, bringing an end to illegal Bedouin outposts.
In September 2011 the government approved the Praver Report, which determined a layout for regulating Bedouin settlement in the Negev, facilitating expansion of existing settlements and absorption of some communities within Regional Council Abu-Basma, south and west of the “green line.”
Additional settlements will be established as part of the regional master plan for Beer-Sheva.
According to the plan, each settlement will be adjusted to the nature and character of the local population and its needs, and will be executed in cooperation with it.
The plan was accepted with mixed feelings among the Bedouin as well as among right wing critics.
Kalman Libeskind wrote in Ma’ariv about Benny Begin’s “stinking maneuver,” accusing him and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein of not just confirming through legal registration what has been essentially an illegal land grab of many thousands of acres by the Bedouins over several decades, but also promising them many new settlements to boot.
Libeskind pointed out that while the Weinstein refused to permit the application of the Levy Committee recommendations to apply Israeli law in Judea and Samaria because the government is in a lame duck period – has no duck issue when it comes to giving away enormous swaths of Jewish land to the Bedouins.
The Regavim movement on Friday petitioned the High Court to forbid the government from approving the proposed program at its meeting on Sunday, arguing that Minister Benny Begin will not serve in the next Knesset and so his proposal is a serious case of a last minute grab that should not be sanctioned.
See the related cartoon.