Gov’t to Spend NIS 900M on Northern Bedouin

Bedouin town of Rahat in the Negev (Hadas Parush/Flash90 )
Bedouin town of Rahat in the Negev. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The government is to allocate NIS 900 million in funds for the development of housing and settlement for Bedouins in northern Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed with Arab MKs on Tuesday. “We are partners, and there is no reason a population that contributes to the welfare of the state should not benefit from investments in education, infrastructure, law enforcement, and personal safety,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Like in southern Israel, there are numerous illegal settlements by Bedouin in northern Israel, where residents live without hookups to water or electricity, paved streets, and other modern facilities. Efforts to persuade these people to give up their illegal homes and move to a village that does have resources have largely failed. The new plan will provide development money for several of these illegal settlements, turning a fait accompli into a legal fact and providing money for infrastructure development and other resources.

The budget, which will be spread over the next four years, will also be used to establish employment centers for young members of the community, encouraging them to develop skills in the high-tech area. Special funds will be allocated for demobilized IDF soldiers and to encourage community members to enlist in the army or the National Service for civil duty; many members of the Bedouin community serve in the army on a voluntary basis.

“I know people are suffering in these communities and need resources and infrastructure, and it does not have to be like this,” said Netanyahu. “This is the 21st century and people need to live on a certain standard. I want to see the young people of these communities become a part of Israeli society economically and socially, to enhance their involvement in education and the IDF, promoting advancement among the population.”