Israeli Official Proposes 'Disengaging' Illegal Bedouin Homes

Ehud Prawer is a candidate to head an inter-ministerial team to deal with issues of Bedouin settlement in the Negev.

A government employee being considered to head an inter-ministerial team to deal with issues of Bedouin settlement in the Negev has recommended implementing similar principles to those used in the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip. "If the government evacuated 8,000 citizens living in legally authorized buildings, it can also evacuate those living in illegal buildings," wrote Ehud Prawer, the head of policy planning in the Prime Minister's Office, who is under review for leading the implementation of the Goldberg report on Bedouin land claims.

In a document released two years ago at the annual Herzliya Conference, Prawer (then deputy head of the National Security Council) wrote that during the Gaza disengagement "the country showed an ability to deal with difficult challenges in terms of organization, budget and legal issues."

Prawer advocates using similar principles when dealing with Bedouin land claims, specifically, giving dispersed population concentrations a time-limited offer with financial incentives for reaching a settlement with the authorities.

"When the time runs out [for example, two years after the proposal is offered], a concentrated effort must be implemented for evacuating illegally-built structures," he wrote. The staff headed by Prawer will draft a policy for dealing with disputes between the Bedouin and the government "in a way that will allow relations of trust to be strengthened between Bedouin and the state."

The proposal, which has been signed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim, asks the team to reach its recommendations within six months.

The Goldberg Committee, appointed by the Interior Ministry to discuss land issues related to the Bedouin, recommended last month that the government recognizes illegal Bedouin villages and offers residents of villages that cannot be recognized to move elsewhere.