As the only member of the government coalition who, from the very start, voted against the Prawer Plan to regulate Bedouin land ownership, I congratulated former Minister Benny Begin and the government of Israel on their decision to scrap the bill at the beginning of this week. But then something strange happened: On Monday, I braved my way through the largest mounds of snow that Israel has seen in 100 years to get to the Knesset Interior Committee meeting. What I discovered is that the snow at the Knesset is covering much more than the asphalt: It is covering a lot of lies.
The government announced that it had scrapped the bill to bribe the Bedouins (to compensate and relocate un-zoned Beoduin settlements) known as the Prawer Plan. But the truth is that the Interior Committee is moving full steam ahead, preparing the bill for its second and third readings in the Knesset.
“We have to pass it,” a nationalist MK said to me.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because now, Israel does not enforce any laws in the Negev. After we pass the law, we will be able to enforce the law against the Bedouin land grab.”
“Do you remember that former PM Rabin promised us that if the Arabs shoot just one bullet from the guns that we gave them, we will let them have it and nullify the Oslo Accords? Do you remember that former PM Sharon promised that after we retreat from Gush Katif we will have legitimacy to take whatever military action necessary in Gaza? The Prawer Plan works on the same principle. Israel surrenders sovereignty and its present ability to enforce the law, hoping to gain legitimacy to act in exchange. This process always leads to the opposite result. We lose our sovereignty (in this case, in the Negev) and also our legitimacy as a sovereign nation.”
Instead of forging ahead with the Prawer Plan after it has already scrapped it, Israel must now announce that the forty year opportunity that it gave to the Bedouins to prove their claims of land ownership in the Negev are over. From now on, those lands will return to the exclusive and full sovereignty of the State of Israel. The State of Israel must develop those lands and market them in the entire Negev to all citizens interested in purchasing them – Bedouins and Jews alike.