The details of the coalition agreements publicized in the media Monday night (Lapid’s Coalition Deal Keeps Netanyahu Out, Handcuffs Bennett, Favors Arabs, Reform) revealed that Naftali Bennett and Gideon Sa’ar, who blamed Netanyahu for his failure of imposing law and order in the Negev, are not only failing to provide solutions – they are exacerbating the problem, the Regavim movement said Tuesday.
According to Mivzak Live (תנועת רגבים: ‘ימינה’ הפרה את ההתחייבות שרשות הבדואים תיוותר בידיהם), in recent weeks, Yamina held consultations with the Regavim movement on Negev issues. Regavim representatives answered Yamina’s questions with the understanding that the Bedouin Settlements Authority would be included in Ayelet Shaked’s Interior Ministry. The same Regavim officials were led to believe that Yamina shared their concern that the current situation in the Negev is serious and dangerous, and the trends of lawlessness that have been established over the past decade in the Negev must be stopped.
An irate Meir Deutsch, Regavim’s CEO, said on Tuesday: “In recent weeks, we have been talking to Yamina and New Hope in order to make sure that the situation [in the Negev] does not get worse. We were reassured that the Bedouin Settlements Authority is in the hands of the Yamina. It was a promise. All the understandings we reached were founded on the commitment that the Regulation Authority, which determines the planning, regulation, and enforcement policy in the Negev, would be in the hands of Ayelet Shaked, and not in the hands of [Ra’am MK] Said al-Harumi who can overthrow the government at any given moment.”
MK Al-Kharomi is the chairman of the High Steering Committee of the Negev Arabs, the political entity representing the interests of the very squatter Bedouin communities that Bennett promised would receive proper regulation under his rule. Now, instead of moving the authority over Bedouin settlements to the interior ministry, it will likely be run by the welfare ministry which will be headed by a Yesh Atid minister, and Yesh Atid is tied in a coalition agreement with Ra’am to protect the rights of the Bedouin squatters.
With Al-Kharomi having this much influence over the fate of the Negev Bedouin—since Ra’am’s very commitment to support the Lapid government depends on it, Bennett might as well have surrendered to his cat the family’s entire supply of cream.
“This basic obligation has been breached,” said Regavim CEO Deutsch. “If Shaked and Bennett, Sa’ar, and Elkin did not live up to this commitment, let them not hide behind us. They’ve shown themselves as neither right nor credible.”
Regavim’s Tuesday’s press release warns that “Aside from approving the whitewashing of thousands of illegal structures on about 2,700 acres of land to create ‘three new communities,’ the coalition agreements do not stipulate what will happen to the rest of the illegal Bedouin squatters’ camps nine months from now, and neither Bennett’s Yemina Party nor Sa’ar’s New Hope Party will have the ability to influence the outcome in a government kept afloat by Mansour Abbas and the Islamist Ra’am Party,”
According to Regavim, “the coalition agreements place both the Bedouin Settlement Authority and the Knesset’s Interior Committee—the two key players in the Negev issue—under the complete control of the left-wing bloc and Ra’am.”
“This situation has unparalleled destructive potential, setting a course for total abandonment of the Negev while rewarding rampant illegal Bedouin construction that imperils the healthy development of the Negev, home of the vast majority of Israel’s land reserves,” Regavim argues.