This year the Begin Law, which attempted to resolve Beduin land claims in the Negev, was halted and there was a turn towards a better alternative for national and Zionist interests. We continued working with the authorities to implement operative regulations to preserve state property. In the media we continued to expose serious phenomena that were hushed-up, such as looting carried out by Bedouin in firing zones in Tse’elim as well as demands for “protection” money. We continued bringing public opinion-makers for study tours of the issues of the Negev from a bird’s-eye view.
Regulating Bedouin Settlement in the Negev: We halted the Begin Law, along with other good friends, and now we have set our efforts towards ensuring a better alternative. Turning a blind eye must not continue, and setting the Begin Law aside must not be allowed to set aside the government’s intention of seriously dealing with the issue and resolving it. The Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir, who has agreed to take this issue upon himself, has to roll up his sleeves and promote an alternative program. We are here to help.
And in the Legal Field:
Al-Zarnog (Abu Qweider) and Bir Hadaj: Together with private property owners in the Negev, we submitted two petitions demanding the removal of Bedouin from land that they had squatted upon. The Supreme Court is hearing the first petition and the second is being heard by the Be’er Sheva District Court. We are basing our arguments on precedents in Judea and Samaria, where the Supreme Court ordered the demolition of outposts built on private property. What we are looking for is one law for both Jews and Arabs alike!
Paying Municipal Taxes in Bedouin Settlements – Abu Basma : nearly all of the funding for the regional councils of the Bedouin in the Negev are based on government support (whose source is, as is well known, the taxpayer’s pocket) while at the same time there is no system for collecting taxes from the residents in the two regional councils of Abu Basma. This is not a case of low percentages of tax revenue due to low socio-economic classification, but a cross-the-board exemption! After lengthy correspondence, with the councils and the Interior Ministry, we submitted a petition to the Supreme Court.
Incursion and Stealing in Army Bases and Firing Zones in the Tse’elim Area: After we exposed photographic documentation on Channel 2 of ongoing lawlessness, incursions and stealing in firing zones, we continued vigilantly with our correspondence with the IDF and police authorities. This correspondence shows a miserable situation where there is an attempt to run away from dealing with the phenomenon, to the point of inventing “creative” solutions, such as developing plastic targets that cannot be stolen, and other means of avoiding reality. If it were not so sad, we’d all be laughing. But it is sad, so we are on our way to the Knesset with the demand that a law be passed that would forbid trade in stolen metal and put an end to the economic profitability of stealing.
Operating Procedures and Priorities in the Israel Land Authority and Interior Ministry: In these two gigantic bodies that manage the most valuable and scarcest resource in Israel- land- there are simply no priorities for policy-making or allocation of resources. After lengthy and exhausting correspondence, we are on our way to the Supreme Court. It’s time that our money and property be dealt with in an organized manner, and according to relevant and equal criteria, and not on the basis of the intuition of the enforcement authorities.
Protection: Another expose’ of Regavim on Channel 2 raised the well-known issue of “protection”. This time: collecting parking fees by Bedouin who live in an unauthorized grouping next to the beginning of the Nahal Kina trail near Arad. We recently received a disturbing answer from the Israel Police regarding the closing of this investigation case. Naturally, we submitted an appeal and we have no intention of letting up until the criminals are brought to justice and the state begins to rule once more in the wild south.
Tours for Public Figures and Public Opinion-Makers: During the past year advocacy tours, both by car and airplane, have taken place for people in the media and public opinion-makers. They learned with their own eyes the issues that confront the Negev. Similarly, there were lectures and panels for interested groups concerning the settlement of the Negev.
Position Paper: During the year, we published and distributed a position paper which was focus of much interest, “The Truth about the Bedouin in the Negev”. One by one, the document demolished the common myths we have been sold for years.