Dear Ministers Livni and Lapid,
"I am certain that the world will judge the Jewish State by what it will do with the Arabs"
- Chaim Weizmann – The First President of Israel
History will judge us harshly if we allow the expulsion of 40,000 Bedouin, and deny the Bedouin a fair opportunity to hold on to their ancestral lands.
In this matter, the Begin Proposal is no more acceptable than the Praver Proposal. We therefore ask that the Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs not approve any of the proposals currently on the table.
The Bedouin are not "Criminals squatting on land not belonging to them," and they are not "Taking over the Negev." The Bedouin community constitutes 30% of the Negev population, and their demands involve only 5.4% of its land. Their has never been a fair process for examining their demands, and most of the land claims the government requested the Bedouin to submit in the 1970's were never processed one way or the other. The population density in the unrecognized Bedouin villages is 6.3 times that of the adjacent Bnei Shimon Regional Council. The Bedouin occupy much less space in proportion to their numbers even if all their demands are met.
As Israel is faced with tough economic choices and serious socioeconomic problems, it is terribly unwise to use NIS 8 billion to create additional problems. The rates of poverty, unemployment, crime and drugs are much higher in the artificially created townships than in the villages. Cutting off people from their sources of income and destroying their social fabric and way of life will only increase these problems, and the funds needed to deal with them. At the same time, the increasing tension created will discourage investment, and make matters worse for both the Jewish and Bedouin residents of the Negev.
"The sword comes into the world because of justice delayed and justice denied." -Pirkei Avot
The time has come for an equitable resolution of Bedouin rights in the Negev. Any worthy resolution must preserve the following principles:
It will be arrived at only with real involvement from the Bedouin community institutions.
Full recognition for all existing villages, even if that means altering the national zoning plan.
Acceptance of the ownership claims made in the 1970’s.
Diversity of settlement types, not just towns or large villages.
Integration of the Bedouin in planning and finding solutions.
Developing the Negev equally – for all its residents.
It is in your hands to decide whether we recreate the "Pale of Settlement" and other restrictions the Jewish people know all to well, or observe the command to treat those living with us fairly and justice because "You were resident aliens in the land of Egypt."
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