Government Passes Five-Year Development Plan for Northern Be...
Government Passes Five-Year Development Plan for Northern Bedouin
The Ministerial Committee for the Arab Sector, headed by PM Netanyahu, passed a NIS 900 million five-year development plan for Bedouin living in northern Israel on Tuesday, May 17th. The plan, which will affect approximately 20 villages, includes investment in employment centers (Part of Al Fanar Employment Centers developed in partnership with JDC), as well as enhancing access to higher education, investing in infrastructure and promoting welfare, tourism and economic development.
The Bedouin are Israel’s most disadvantaged population facing high rates of poverty compounded by the challenges they confront in integrating into the Israeli education system and job market. While the majority—some 220,000—of Israel’s Bedouin population lives in the Negev, there are around 70,000 Bedouin living in the north. Historically, northern Bedouin have had positive relations with the state exemplified by the high rates of voluntary service in the Israeli army dating back to the establishment of the state.
“There is no reason that an entire population which contributes to the state should not receive support in education, infrastructure, law enforcement, and personal security,” Netanyahu said. “I know that people are suffering, and it doesn’t have to be this way; in the 21st century people need to be able to live.”
Representative bodies from the Bedouin community, including the Forum of Northern Bedouin Council, worked with the Ministerial Committee to negotiate the terms of this comprehensive plan, characterizing the plan’s approval as a big success in closing gaps between Bedouin society and Israeli society.