Israel’s Bedouin Policy Must Uphold the Rule of Law

Approximately one third of the Negev’s Bedouin live in unauthorized villages. Recently Israel has embarked on a campaign to dismantle these villages, primarily by offering their residents incentives to relocate with the long-term goal of integrating them into Israeli society and the modern economy. But when the residents of Umm Hiran turned down offers to relocate to a nearby, legal Bedouin village, Israel forcibly dismantled the settlement, provoking outrage from Arab parliamentarians and demonstrations. Since then, tensions have grown even greater. Ariel Ben Solomon writes:

Will the relocation of Bedouin into modern towns succeed to the degree envisioned by the country’s ruling politicians? This objective will be hampered by the efforts of radical Arab nationalists and the Islamic Movement to infiltrate and coopt the Bedouin conflict as a tool against the state. For them, the Bedouin issue is just another front in the Israel-Palestinian struggle.

However, radical infiltrations aside, it should not be too difficult for the state to negotiate with the generally pragmatic and non-ideological Bedouin. They have not traditionally identified themselves as either ardent Palestinian nationalists or Islamists. . . .

While the government believes it will be able to enforce the law, Israel’s policy goals for the Negev need deeper thought. Is the state ready to continue evacuating illegal settlements one by one, with each possibly serving as another last stand by the Bedouin and their Arab political and international supporters? Beyond relocation, what is the goal of integrating the Bedouin into society? Integration programs have not had great success with the general Muslim Arab population, which continues to identify itself primarily as Palestinian or Muslim rather than Israeli. . . .

The violent resistance that occurred at Umm Hiran might be an example of what is to come, but Israel need not give in to fear. It should continue to enforce the law and negotiate with Bedouin families, yet remain realistic about the long-term success and idealistic goals of the endeavor.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Bedouin, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Negev

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy