Doron Almog, Director of the Headquarters for Economic and Community Development of the Negev Bedouin, talks at the Religious Action Center
This morning, the RAC had the privilege of hosting Maj. Gen. (Res) Doron Almog, the Director of the Headquarters for Economic and Community Development of the Negev Bedouin. Maj. Gen. Almog is in charge of implementing the national policy of development and societal integration of the Negev Bedouin.
There are approximately 210,000 Bedouin in the Negev, out of a total local population of 640,000. There are currently seven Bedouin urban centers and eleven recognized villages. 90,000 Bedouins live in poor conditions, often without regular access to electricity or clean water. The Government of Israel is in the process of adopting a comprehensive policy that seeks to improve the living conditions of Bedouins, including providing electricity and plumbing to communities, and to find a long-term solution to enable planning and regulation of existing communities that lack zoning plans.
The legislation, known as the “Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev,” is based on a plan written by former Likud minister Benny Begin. Maj. Gen.. Almog outlined key parts of the plan, including compensation and relocation, and made a strong moral and practical case for it. 120,000 Negev Bedouins live in one of the seven urban centers or eleven recognized villages. Of the remaining 90,000 that live in communities that are not zoned, 30,000 would need to move under the plan. According to the government, most will only need to move a few kilometers. (15,000 of those 30,000 Bedouins have settled illegally within the zone of the Ramat Hovav Toxic Waste Disposal Facility; Israel considers living in this area a threat to health and safety). The other 60,000 will have their homes legalized under this plan. The government also notes that “all the Bedouin claimants will receive compensation in land and money equivalent to the full value of the land claimed.”
At the same time, concerns remain, including those raised by groups like T’ruah, that have called for ensuring the Bedouin are consulted throughout the process and addressing the impact of requiring people to move from the places they live. We will continue to stay involved in addressing these and other issues with the goal of achieving a just solution to these challenges.