Arab MKs Tear Up Bedouin Settlements Bill in Angry Debate

YERUSHALAYIM -

Arab MKs tore up a bill regulating Beduin settlements in the Negev during a rancorous Knesset session on Monday, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The Prawer-Begin bill calls for legalizing approximately 63% of Bedouin land claims.

There were signs of trouble ahead before the plenum debate, as last-minute negotiations took place over the timetable provided for evacuations.

The plan has been a source of angry controversy. Politicians on the right charge that it would give away too much and not solve the problem, while on the left, they say that it is not generous enough.

The discussion of the bill was accompanied by loud arguments and a walkout by some Arab MKs when Welfare Minister Meir Cohen presented the legislation.

“This is not a bill, it’s a strangling,” MK Jamal Zahalke (Balad) said as he left the plenum.

Soon after, while MK Muhammad Barakei (Hadash) and Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) shouted insults at each other.

Barakei then tore up a copy of the legislation.  That was followed by MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta’al) pouring water on it.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein sayd he will file a complaint with the Knesset Ethics Committee.

In any event, the bill passed its first reading in the plenum with 43 in favor and 40 opposed.

The legislation follows a plan by former Likud minister Benny Begin proposed for regulating the land of the Bedouin in 2012 based on a previous plan drawn up by a team headed by Ehud Prawer in 2011, known as the Prawer Plan. The Prawer Plan in turn was based on recommendations of a committee chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Eliezer Goldberg.