Israeli Cabinet Minister Lashes Out at 'Unruly' Bedouin Citizens

Minister Yoav Galant warns against Negev Bedouin achieving territorial contiguity with West Bank Palestinians, urges continued settling of south Hebron Hills

Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant gives a press conference in March 2016.
Ofer Vaknin

Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu) told the Knesset Interior Committee on Tuesday that Jewish settlement in the south Hebron Hills of the West Bank is necessary to prevent Bedouin communities in Israel’s Negev from achieving territorial contiguity with Palestinian towns in the southern West Bank.

In all the eastern Negev, the minister said, "there's an unruliness by the Bedouin population,  which that intends to take control on the ground and do whatever they want.”

Galant, who was speaking at a session to discuss a plan to develop settlements proposed by the Yesha Council, added: “Every Negev resident is married to four [Palestinian] women from the Hebron Hills and receives National Insurance [benefits]. I’m in favor of seeing to their needs but they should also fulfill their obligations as citizens. Settling the length of the south Hebron Hills is essential,” Galant said.

According to a 2013 census, around 210,000 Bedouin live in the Negev, about 120,000 of them in recognized communities, whether in relatively organized towns such as Rahat or in clusters of ramshackle huts. The remaining 80,000 live in shacks scattered around the Negev. Israeli Bedouin communities are last on the socioeconomic ladder, centers of poverty, neglect and crime.