In a place where there is no government policy, anarchy develops. More than 2,000 illegal structures are built across the Negev every year by Bedouins. Every person does as he pleases.
The lack of governability phenomenon is contagious. Its starts with a drizzle and ends in a flood. The State of Israel sinned by shutting its eyes, and the price of reparation is heavy. The Begin-Prawer Plan was born out of a desire to seal the black hole created there for years – it's not good enough for either side, but it's a necessary attempt to create a policy.
There are 200,000 Bedouins living in the Negev, 80,000 of them in the community of unrecognized villages without any permits. A significant number of them have gotten used to living without an identity and without identifying with the State of Israel.
The plan is comprised of two parts: The first is a regularization of half of the Bedouins living in the community, and the second is compensating and evacuating others.
The Right didn't like the plan because regularization means giving a prize for illegal construction. In the Left there were those who opposed the evacuation of people from their homes. Hypocrisy is a trait which crosses camps.
A law-abiding state has a duty to evacuate those engaging in illegal construction. It can try to come up with settlements, pecuniary compensation, creative ideas. In the end, when there are no solutions, you evacuate. Period. Regardless of religion, race or gender. That applies both to settlers sitting on private land and to a flood of illegal construction by Bedouins in the Negev.
Believing that this is a conflict over lands and money is wrong – the battle is over the face of the State of Israel.
Minority setting the toneSeveral months ago I chanced upon a Bedouin protest against the regularization law. They waved PLO flags, and one Hamas flag too. Wherever the State of Israel is absent, members of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement come into play.
The property and construction offenses are just a means of letting off steam. Eighty-five percent of the Bedouins are young people under the age of 35, their enlistment with the IDF is diminishing every year, and radical Islam is growing stronger. The time to make a decision is over.
In Saturday's protests, the national voices against Israel won – they are a minority setting the tone. A significant number of the Bedouins are looking to integrate into the State, and these protestors are causing them and the fabric of relations between Jews and Arabs huge damage.
The main question raised in the government about the Prawer Plan is the ability to implement it: Will the Bedouins accept it? That's a wrong question. The answer is not important. A state needs a policy, regardless of demonstrations and protests. The Negev remains as a test for the people, since the days of Ben-Gurion – and the State of Israel cannot afford to fail in it.