Minister: Compromise reached on Negev tree-planting

i24NEWS

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Israeli parliament member Itamar Ben Gvir plants a tree outside the Bedouin village of Mulada, in the Negev desert, southern Israel, January 12, 2022.
Flash90Israeli parliament member Itamar Ben Gvir plants a tree outside the Bedouin village of Mulada, in the Negev desert, southern Israel, January 12, 2022.

Minister in charge of regulating Bedouin settlements says planting to stop after second day of violence

The Israeli minister in charge of regulating Bedouin settlements announced on Wednesday that a compromise was reached on the tree-planting program in the Negev desert region, Walla! News reports. 

The activity sparked two days of violent demonstrations and threatened to shatter the coalition government.

Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Meir Cohen said that the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) forestry program will stop planting trees and the parties will convene on an accelerated basis to work out a new forestation plan.

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The announcement comes after a second day of protests by local Bedouins against the tree-planting program. 

Police made 11 arrests during clashes Wednesday morning, as the tree-planting resumed amid heavy security.

Tuesday saw rioters torch cars, block trains and clash with police, lightly wounding two officers, according to media reports. A total of 18 arrests were made during the demonstrations.

A delegation from the Likud party attended Tuesday's tree-planting ceremony, while Israeli parliament member from the Religious Zionism party, Itamar Ben Gvir, participated in Wednesday's dig.

The planting has set off a coalition crisis in Jerusalem, with Islamist Ra'am party chief Mansour Abbas threatening to withhold his faction's four votes from the ruling government until the issue is resolved.

Local Bedouins oppose the tree-planting program which they see as an encroachment on their land which is home to settlements without permits that they fear could one day be dismantled by Israel in favor of regulated development plans.