Negotiators being trained for land reform talks say -
'The state doesn't need to, nor can it, reach a point when it evicts them forcefully. If we do that we fail. However we must take back the governance in the Negev'
The Bedouin Development Authority has been trying to reach a compromise with the Bedouins regarding the Negev land reform, a plan which would have seen the Bedouins receive hundreds of thousands of acres and is currently being reexamined by the government.
While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered Yaakov Amidror, head of the National Security Council, to reexamine the issue, the Bedouin Development Authority, part of the Israel Land Administration, is responsible for training negotiators to handle the issues in the field and prepare for upcoming talks with the Bedouins.
So far the Authority has recruited 24 negotiators and 20 others will be joining them soon.
"Every Bedouin sees his residence as a potential settlement. The state will have to act with determination as the moving stage begins, only after coming up with solutions cooperatively," said Avi Yifrach, 41, who has been working for the authority for nearly five years.
Uri Shahar, 32, recruited over a year and a half ago, added: "The state doesn't need to, nor can it, reach a point when it evicts them forcefully. If we do that we fail. However we must take back the governance in the Negev."
Aside from negotiations and confidence-building measures, the mediators must insure the Bedouins who leave their homes will be provided with homes, employment, education and more. Every mediator is therefore in charge of functioning as a hub between the Authority and the different governmental offices.
Shahar explained that the psychological differences are the true obstacle. "We are dealing with a population which has existed beside the state for some 60 years… The state must come up with solutions for that… and the Bedouins must understand that not all of their needs can be met," remarked Shahar.
"No matter what decision will be approved by the government, they will have the proper tools to implement it," concluded Yifrach. "The public is already aware of the issue and the mere discussion over it has caused everyone to be less apathetic."
The current Bedouin settlement plan, put together by a special unit in the Prime Minister's Office, sought to regulate the land issue, and prevent Bedouin tribes from illegally squatting across the Negev.
However, it fell prey to extensive political pressure by the various parties on the Right and the Left, most notably over the recommendation to allot Bedouins in the Negev hundreds of thousands of acres of land, in favor of future towns.
In March 2011, a team tasked with implementing changes in the status of Negev lands came up with a proposal recommending that Bedouins receive ownership of 50% of the lands they occupy and be compensated for the other 50%.
|Liveleak on Facebook|