MK Aida Touma-Suleiman (United Arab List), Chair of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, canceled today’s scheduled hearing on polygamy in the Bedouin sector: “At this very moment, land is being stolen in the Negev.”
Three MKs who initiated the hearing requested a short delay: MK Amichai Chikli was participating in a parallel Knesset hearing, and MK Galit Distel Atbaryan was delayed by 5 minutes as she waited for her antigen results at the Knesset Guard’s desk.
Although Knesset committees customarily wait a reasonable length of time for MKs, who are often delayed by other Knesset business, to arrive and participate in hearings – especially those they themselves convene – MK Touma-Suleiman canceled the hearing after waiting for only five minutes blaming “absence of the MKs who convened the hearing” while exploiting the opportunity to cast accusations: “I am very skeptical whether the MKs who called for this hearing have any interest in advancement of the status of Arab Bedouin women.”
“At this very moment, the JNF is carrying out planting work on land that belongs to the Al Atrash family in the Negev, and under the guise of forestation work is actually stealing land and inflicting violence on the Arab Bedouin population there,” Suleiman continued, referring to JNF projects on state land in the Negev.
Naomi Kahn, Director of Regavim’s International Division and one of the authors of Regavim’s comprehensive, groundbreaking study of the practice of polygamy in Israel’s Bedouin sector “PolygamyToo“, was slated to participate in the committee hearing and to present new data on the impact and scope of polygamy in the Negev. Regavim is one of two civil society organizations that are standing members of the inter-ministerial committee established to tackle the issue of polygamy and to monitor the enforcement of the Palmor Report and the law prohibiting polygamy in Israel.
After the committee hearing was adjourned, Kahn commented: “Touma- Suleiman made it abundantly clear, in both words and actions, where her priorities lie – not in advancing the welfare and status of women, but in aiding and abetting the anarchy and lawlessness that are engulfing the Negev.”