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Israel’s Bedouin Take Radical Turn

Ariel Ben Solomon

How will Israel deal with changing Bedouin residents’ issues?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

 Mishpacha image

TAKING ACTION Police haul away the car used in the ramming attack, but only government action can tackle the root of the problem (Photo: Flash 90)

Israel surely has a problem with its Palestinian neighbors, but the issue of Bedouin residents has long traveled under the radar.

Last week’s killing of an Israeli police officer by a Bedouin radicalized by Islamist groups might put an end to all that.

The government has been promoting Bedouin development and resettlement for one third of the estimated 200,000 Bedouin who live in hundreds of scattered illegal settlements in Israel, according to statistics in the State Comptroller report published last year.

Last week, police moved in with bulldozers in the village of Umm al-Hiram to enforce a Supreme Court ruling to evict the residents and destroy the unrecognized village. Police said that during the operation, a local Bedouin Arab teacher, Yaqoub Musa Abu al-Qiyan, purposely ran over security officers, killing 34-year-old Sergeant Major Erez Levi, who is survived by his wife and two small children.

The Bedouin, along with their supporters on the left and in NGOs, maintain that Israel must legalize the illegal villages rather than resettle the Bedouin into new neighborhoods. Bedouin leaders have rejected a government-backed plan called the Prawer-Begin bill, a compromise that many on the right thought was too generous.

Amichai Yogev, southern director of the NGO Regavim, which describes itself as seeking to ensure a responsible, legal and accountable use of the country’s land — said that Arab Knesset members and their supporters are behind the crisis and incitement.

“We expect the state not to give up in destroying the illegal settlements because of this violence and continue to enforce the law,” Yogev said. “The state has feared to carry out these kind of operations, afraid such violence would occur.” Left wing NGOs, Arab politicians, and the Islamic Movement have mobilized the traditionally non-ideological Bedouin to reject compromise with the state, according to Yogev. This latest demolition is a test case for future removal of illegal settlements that dot the landscape in the southern desert.

Gerald Steinberg: “These NGOs have used their money and media access to block every compromise plan presented to the Bedouin population. This is entirely irresponsible and the tragic results are all too visible”

“This is the flagship village where the Arab politicians and supporters decided to take a stand,” Yogev said, adding that the Bedouin in Umm al-Hiran are known for their radical ties, unlike most Israeli Bedouin groups.

Asked about the responsibility of left-wing NGOs and their EU funders for the promotion of incitement, Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, a group that tracks European funding of pro-Palestinian groups in Israel, told Mishpacha: “NGOs — regardless of their ideological spin — should be judged by their actions. Groups claiming to promote moral agendas that act against these principles must be publicly held accountable. In this case, they include Adalah and Rabbis for Human Rights, and their funders, including the EU and the NIF (New Israel Fund). These NGOs have used their money and media access to block every compromise plan presented to the Bedouin population. This is entirely irresponsible and the tragic results are all too visible.”

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