THEY MUST GO Page 210
Chapter 9: Time Runs Out
 
 
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210 THEY MUST GO

btary information. In addition, thefts of army weapons and am- bmunition had become an epidemic.

bThat hostile political elements realize the importance of bestablishing Arab “facts” on as much land as possible was em- bphasized in March 1978 by Yitzhak Bardimon, head of the In- bterior Ministry’s southern district, who said that Bedouins were bbeing incited “by enemies of the state” to try to gain control of bgovernment land. He also pointed out that the sudden “wild bbuilding was an effort to establish facts.”
 

bThe Bedouin theft of land, which, in the words of Ariel bSharon, is “a result of Jewish weakness,” is only one side of the bcoin. The fact is that the lands on which they grazed when the state came binto being in 1948 are for the main part not theirs either. The Bedouins, bwanderers and nomads, never owned land. They would move bfrom one part of the country to another with their flocks. Present befforts on their part to claim “ownership” are transparent ef- bforts to legitimize their theft.

bThus, at a press conference in Beersheba on March 28, b1978, Negev Bedouins were unable to produce any legal titles b(kushanim) to the land they claimed. This sheds more than a little bnecessary light on the controversy surrounding the efforts of the bIsraeli government to take over desperately needed land for the bnew post-Camp David air bases.

bIsrael, a country with 3.1 million Jews on barely 8,000 bsquare miles, desperately needs every inch of its land. Agricul- btural land for Jews is scarce, water supplies precious. The bNegev, covering more than half of pre-1967 Israel, clearly is a bregion that Jews see as their future. For decades, however, Israel bpreferred not to make this clear to the Bedouins, thus allowing bthem to stake their claim to most stretches of land. Suddenly, bIsrael must pay the price.

bThe disastrous Camp David accords not only called for bIsrael’s giving up the Sinai with its oil, but also the vital Israeli bair bases. It was agreed that new bases be built in the Negev. bThe question was where. Experts carefully surveyed the possible bsites, and it was decided that to replace the base at Ohira, to be bgiven up in 1982, a new one would be built in the Negev on land bof Tel Malhata. The thirty years of Jewish unwillingness to bgrapple with the issue of the Bedouins now came back to haunt bthem. Riots, protests, threats—and suddenly the Bedouins were b 

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THEY MUST GO Page 210
Chapter 9: Time Runs Out