Thursday, March 10, 2011

Abandoning the Negev

“It is in the Negev that the creativity and pioneer vigor of Israel shall be tested.
-- David Ben-Gurion, First Prime Minister of Israel

Today, we witnessed a colossal abandonment of Ben-Gurion's vision for the Negev, as a government commission presented its first draft report on recommendations for "the Bedouin problem."
The team was instructed to present the government with recommendations on how to solve the status of Bedouin settlement in the Negev, pursuant with the 2008 Goldberg report. Sources said that the government will soon discuss the recommendations.

According to the team's proposal, 50% of Bedouin claims on agricultural lands they currently occupy will be granted. A source familiar with the issue said this will effectively mean some 200,000 dunam will be listed as Bedouin territory in the land registry bureau.

The draft indicates that for uninhabited lands the Bedouins will receive large sums in compensation or alternative lands.

The compensation will be provided only after the lands are evacuated and will be anywhere between NIS 2,000 and NIS 10,000 per dunam. Several billions may be paid in total.

The new plan aims to provide a solution to what the State has described as a "ticking bomb," by legalizing tens of thousands of illegal Bedouin structures in the Negev and reinforcing the enforcement system in the area.

Sources familiar with the issue said the recognition of Bedouin ownership may open a gate for settlers whom the state evicted from their homes to demand equal terms in court. (YNET)
Israel sends in the police to shoot plastic bullets at settlers over a few shacks, forces the closure of Synagogues, and throws the Jews from Gush Katif out of their homes.

Yet the Bedouin have tens of thousands of illegal homes in the Negev, which the government proposal offers full ownership to them, and compensation of billions of dollars for 50% of the land they won't get to keep.

If the Negev really is the test of Israel's creativity and pioneer vigor, then we've failed miserably.

On the other hand, it just shows that squatting on land is the only real option for settling it and getting eventual ownership.

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