Days of Palestine, Al-Naqab –Israeli Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir warned on Sunday from the increasing number of Palestinian Arabs in Al-Naqab.
Shamir, from Yisrael Beiteinu, said that the Israeli authorities must work to lower the birth rate of Bedouins and prevent polygamy prevalent in the community.
These remarks infuriated the Bedouins and Arab officials severely criticised him and called him to pay attention to the misery of the Bedouins and their villages, which the Israeli occupation does not recognise, instead of inciting against them.
Arab Bedouins in Al-Naqab have been complaining from the loss of access to the basic facilities like others who live under the control of the Israeli occupation.
Most of their villages are unrecognised by the Israeli authorities; therefore, they lack basic service facilities.
Shamir, who is the son of former Israeli PM Yitzhak Shamir, and heads the committee charged with dealing with Bedouin communities in the Negev said: “First of all, we need to take all of the Bedouins and start moving them out of the desert [Al-Naqab].”
He means, they must be removed from their lands and villages, which the Israeli authorities claim they are state lands.
“Then, he said, we need to move them closer to the normal country in terms of legislation, life style, socio-economical level, education, job opportunities.” He means they must be mixed with Israeli Jews in order to melt their identity.
In addition, he said: “We need to deal with polygamy, lowering birth rate and rising the quality of life.
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The minister was in a tour in the Negev regional council. He noted that according to some estimates, by 2035 there will be over 1.5 million Bedouins in Israel, and warned that Israeli authorities are “blind to the issue.”
Shamir also warned about growing relations between Bedouins and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, saying that “over 1,500 Bedouins travel to study in [Al-Khalil] daily and that every effort should be made to keep them affected by the Israeli culture.”
‘It reveals Shamir’s racism’
Commenting on Shamir’s remarks, member of the Political Bureau of the National Democratic Assembly Jumaa Zabarqa said the remarks imply “increasing racism.”
“We are not waiting a decision from Shamir or his government to decide when and how many children we will have,” he said. “This decision is only ours. The remarks undermine freedoms and personal rights.”
Zabarqa addressed Shamir: “You can propose whatever laws you want and like what happened with Prawer Plan, we will not accept them.”
Meanwhile, the Arab Knesset Member Talab abu-Arrar said that Shamir is looking at the Arabs as a “security danger.” He said: “These remarks reveal that Shamir deals with the Arabs in Negev as a demographic and security danger. His remarks reflect clear racism.”
Abu-Arrar continued: “Like predecessors, Shamir fears the increase of the Arabs inside Israel; therefore, he is trying to restrict them as possible as he can.”