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Report finds Negev Bedouins remain poorest population in Israel

The latest report by State Comptroller Matanyahu Engelman highlights the plight of the Bedouin communities living in the Negev region, with little progress seen despite their new representation in the governing coalition.
Bedouin village

In February 2017, Israel's government adopted a five-year plan for socioeconomic development in Bedouin communities in the Negev region. Still, as the end of this program nears, the situation has apparently improved very little. In his annual report released last August, State Comptroller Matanyahu Engelman examined various aspects of governance in the Negev. He found that “the Bedouin population of the Negev is the poorest sector in Israel, suffering from a lack of infrastructures and quality education. It is heavily involved in incidents related a failure to pay taxes, polygamy, racketeering and protection money, and willful damage to civilian and military infrastructures. It is incumbent on the government of Israel to increase government involvement in the Negev.”

The State Comptroller’s report also found that the educational system in Bedouin villages is impeding integration into the Israeli workforce. This accords with a 2017 report by the Knesset that the dropout rate in Bedouin schools in the Negev is the highest in all of Israel, reaching 31%. This contrasts sharply with the Israeli population in general, where the dropout rate is less than 10%.

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