Since the early days of Israeli independence, there has been a continuous dispute over land rights and settlements in the Negev region, between the Bedouins and the State of Israel. Its most notable manifestation is unauthorized construction dispersed over vast tracts of land, with no consideration for existing zoning plans and in locations undesignated or unfit for human habitation. As a result, the Bedouins, one of Israel’s most impoverished population groups, experience significant difficulties in benefitting from public services available to other citizens. The situation also impedes the development of the Negev for the benefit of all its inhabitants. This article will trace the dispute back to its roots, outline the main public actions taken, and suggest an explanation.