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Illegal Bedouin settlements need Israel’s support – World Likud

CM 18/04/2021

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Danny Danon, Israel’s former ambassador to the UN and current head of World Likud, addressed the illegal Bedouin settlements in the Negev when he toured the area on Sunday. 

“This is a large area that continuously suffers from a high crime rate, and we need to address the root of the problem in a way that will secure the personal safety and security of the residents,” said Danon. 
In southern Israel, there are 210,000 Bedouins, making up one third of the Negev’s population, according to the Foreign Affairs Ministry.  
Some 90 thousand Negev Bedouins live in non-regulated communities or shanty towns where little, if any, municipal services exist, including basic water and sewage infrastructure. There is no municipal planning or taxation.
Such Bedouin communities suffer from extraordinary high rates of unemployment, poverty, criminal activity, violence against women, and Islamic radicalization.
Some communities have even established themselves in hazardous areas, such as the 14-15 thousand Bedouins living near the Ramat Hovav Toxic Waste Disposal Facility (Foreign Affairs Ministry). 
Danon is not the first to address the situation. Under the 2013 “Begin Plan,” Israel allocated over NIS 8 billion in the coming 10 years to upgrade Bedouin communities in the Negev.

The plan provided funding for proper zoning, electricity and water infrastructure, and access to modern healthcare, education, and social services to Bedouin communities. It offered full compensation to the 30 thousand Bedouins needing to relocate due to health hazards or areas that could not be properly developed, while ensuring the remaining 60,00 received legal land plots in their establishments to build proper homes. 
“We can’t lay thousands of kilometers of water pipes to reach every group of shacks in the middle of the desert,” said New Hope MK Bennie Begin, who proposed the plan to the government in January 2013.
“If we want to improve the situation of the Bedouin, we must create reasonably-sized communities, big enough to have a school and with residents in reasonable distance so that even the youngest children can attend,” Begin further explained.
The plan received some support, but was also critiqued by many for uprooting Bedouins from their nomadic lifestyle and makeshift desert communities. It seemed to have reached a standstill. 
This week however, Danon toured through several of the Bedouin villages and speaking with local leaders, gained a deeper understanding of the challenges the Bedouin community faces, including their desire to improve living conditions, be under Israeli sovereignty, and lower the crime rate. 
“If Israel can exercise sovereignty over Tel Aviv or Ashdod, there’s no reason to withhold it from the Negev,” Danon said in support of advancing Israeli sovereignty over the region.
One of the Bedouin leaders, Abed Tarabin, relocated the Tarabin clan in 2013 from an illegal encampment near Omer to a properly- planned Bedouin town, Kfar Tarabin, with the government’s support. 
“The government plan isn’t 100% perfect, but it is a great improvement over the current situation of Bedouin in the Negev. We can build proper homes on recognized land, demand employment and health and education services, and make other demands of the government, like any other citizen. In our new town, we have asked for and received agricultural and industrial help,” Tarabin said at the time.
He updated Danon that while the community has since relocated to a proper town, there is still much improvement to be seen in reducing the crime rates and improving quality of life.
“I see you as a loyal representative who has come here and is really interested in helping solve the problem. We want to be part of the country in every sense,” Tarabin told Danon.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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