Step Taken to Clear Bedouins off Negev Lands

A special bill that would expedite the government’s seizure of Bedouin lands in the Negev to build two new U.S. financed air bases was cleared today by a special Cabinet committee headed by Premier Menachem Begin and will be presented in the Knesset by Finance Minister Simcha Ehrlich early next week, officials said. The measure would empower the Israeli authorities to evict the Bedouins after a 90-day notice but gives them the right to appeal.

Unlike regular land seizure proceedings, the Bedouins will not be allowed to challenge the seizure orders before the courts in advance of their eviction. They will be granted the right of appeal, first to a special tribunal of top level civil servants and after that to the courts over the compensation in money or land they are offered.

Bedouin leaders complained bitterly today that they were not getting the same treatment as Jewish settlers who will have to evacuate the Rafah salient of Sinai when it is returned to Egypt.

Government officials, defending the bill, stressed that the land must be seized soon because work on the air fields must be completed within three years under terms of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty and normal land seizure proceedings can drag out for years. They said further that the Bedouins have no title to about 95 percent of the land, only possessors rights, that they will be offered compensation at rates in excess of the normal level for similar evictees; and that they will be able to appeal on the question of compensation.

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