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New Knesset committee to work on restoring governance to Negev

The Israeli government will consolidate efforts to regulate Bedouin settlement in southern Israel, which includes tens of thousands of illegal structures.

View of the Bedouin city of Rahat in southern Israel, on April 8, 2019. Photo by Moshe Shai/Flash90
View of the Bedouin city of Rahat in southern Israel, on April 8, 2019. Photo by Moshe Shai/Flash90

The Israeli government on Sunday approved the formation of a committee to restore governance in the Negev region, including regulating Bedouin settlement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Amichai Chikli, minister of social equality and minister of diaspora affairs, who holds the Bedouin Authority portfolio, will lead the committee.

According to the Israeli NGO Regavim, which monitors illegal construction activity by Palestinians and Bedouins, as of 2021 the Bedouin population of southern Israel stood at 278,616, with 82,084 residing in illegal settlements. According to Regavim, there are 86,056 illegal structures built in the Negev by the Bedouin.

The organization has also documented other issues associated with the Negev Bedouin, including illegal weapons, drug trafficking and water and electricity theft.

The committee will serve as an umbrella for a whole-of-government approach to tackling the issues of the Negev, with various agencies and authorities working together on establishing the rule of law and Israeli sovereignty in the south.

In January 2022, 12 people were injured when thousands of Bedouins rioted over the planting of trees in the Negev by the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeIisrael (JNF-KKL).

Regavim tweeted at the time: “In light of the unprecedented, violent Bedouin rioting throughout the Negev, we demand that the Border Police & General Security Service take immediate action to secure the safety of the citizens of the Negev.”

In April of last year, in the Bedouin city of Rahat, a 14-year-old girl was wounded in a gang shootout, according to a report at the time from Kan News.

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