Initiative: Evacuation-compensation for Negev Bedouins
Minister Edery says law must be adopted on retrieval of land seized by Bedouins in Israel’s peripheries, saying, ‘Whoever does not accept law, does not agree to evacuate in exchange for compensation, will be evacuated just like settlers’. Bedouin rep: We've owned these lands since before Israel's inception
Edery is offering to compensate the Bedouins in a generous manner for the lands they overtook, based on suggestions made by the committee headed by Judge Eliezer Goldberg. This committee is presently working on a policy for regulating settlement in the Bedouin Negev.
According to Edery’s proposal, an exact time schedule needs to be determined for the evacuation of lands held by the Bedouins. Later, if they do not evacuate, the minister suggests that special IDF and police units need to be created with the purpose of evacuating Bedouins by force.
According to him, “Law enforcement officials, like the police and the army, must be prepared to actualize the law, just like we did in Gush Katif.
"Whoever does not accept the law and doesn’t agree to evacuate in exchange for compensation, will be evacuated just like the settlers were.”
Edery also said that after the law is passed, the State will have to destroy all illegal construction in the Negev within a very short period of time.
Bedouin appropriation of state land in the Negev is a phenomenon that has been occurring for years. The attempts to find actual solutions to the problem were not successful and various prepared plans and reports are gathering dust.
The government decided to create the Goldberg Committee at the end of last year. Simultaneously, an executive authority was also created in order to operate in accordance with the committee’s suggestions for regulating Bedouin settlement in the Negev within five years.
The Goldberg Committee was asked to crystallize a proposal on the amount of compensation the Bedouins will be paid, to set a timetable and to propose regulations for alternative lands.
Losing the periphery
Governmental offices and defense officials have expressed a fear in the recent years of “losing” the peripheries in the Negev and Galilee. This is because of the relatively small number of Jewish inhabitants in these areas and because of Arab appropriation of the country’s lands.
The police’s enforcement abilities in these areas are limited and large portions of land have turned into Arab residents’ private property over the years.
The situation has aroused suspicion amongst various bodies including defense officials who have recently warned of the congregating dangers of the countries citizens in the area between “Hadera-Gdera.”
“There is a large expropriation of the country’s land,” said Edery. This phenomenon is spreading and our problem is worsening. I am worried when there is no law and order, we are losing entire regions in the country.
We have neglected the Bedouin topic for years. On the one hand, we have not treated them properly and on the other, the country has not used its authority on all necessary issues.
Edery warned that if Israel does not supply fast and just solutions for the Bedouins which include improvements in infrastructure, the education system and quality of life, Israel will lose the Bedouin’s loyalty.
According to him, “if we continue not providing them with solutions, this will eventually work against the country, including on a security level.
“They will not be loyal to Israel for that much longer. For this reason, I am presenting a package that includes both the stick and the carrot and I hope that the committee will offer them just compensations, in the form of money and alternative lands as well,” said Edery.
Hussein al-Rafaya, head of the Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, told Ynet in response to the initiative, "Instead of deciding to evacuate us, Minister Edery should accept the fact that this is about existing villages that are home to landowners.
"The lands have been ours since before the establishment of the State of Israel, and I fail to understand why the minister presented such an initiative prior to the publication of the Goldberg Committee's recommendations," he said.
Knesset Member Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al) who resides in the Negev, said he plans to demand Edery's dismissal from cabinet over the initiative. "Edery is unworthy of holding a ministerial position in light of his remarks, which ignore the rights of the Arab public in the Negev and the Galilee," he said.