European Parliament condemns Israel’s policy toward Bedouin population

Human rights groups hail resolution as unprecedented; European Parliament calls on Israel to withdraw government-approved plan to regulate Bedouin communities in Negev.

By Jack Khour

The European Parliament passed a resolution on Thursday condemning Israel’s policy toward the Bedouin communities living in unrecognized settlements in the Negev Desert. Human rights groups have called the resolution, which passed 291 to 274 with 39 abstaining, unprecedented.

Bedouin children of the Jahalin tribe near the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, June 16, 2012.

Bedouin children of the Jahalin tribe near the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim (seen in the background) – Photo by Reuters

The European Parliament called on Israel to withdraw its government-approved Prawer plan to regulate the Bedouin communities in the Negev. The resolution was brought to a vote by the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament and was based on work done by the European Parliament’s Working Group on the Middle East, which held consultations with representatives of human rights groups including Attorney Suhad Bishara of Adalah – The Legal Center for the Arab Minority Rights in Israel, who briefed working group on the legal ramifications of the plan, and its relations to Israeli and international law.

The situation of the Bedouin citizens of Israel has never before been addressed by the European Parliament. The Director of Adalah’s Negev bureau, the geographer Dr. Thabet Abu Rass commented on the decision saying that “achieving recognition by the European Parliament that the Israeli government practices the same policies of displacement and dispossession against Palestinian citizens of Israel as it does against Palestinians living under occupation is a tremendous step forward.”

Last march, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on Israel not to implement the Prawer program.

“Whereas Arab Bedouins are indigenous people leading a sedentary and traditionally agricultural life on their ancestral lands and are seeking formal and permanent recognition of their unique situation and status,” The resolution stated. “whereas Arab Bedouin communities, threatened by Israeli policies undermining their livelihoods and including forced transfer, are a particularly vulnerable population both in the occupied Palestinian Territory and in the Negev.”

In another relevant clause the resolution said: “The European Parliament Calls for the protection of the Bedouin communities of the West Bank and in the Negev, and for their rights to be fully respected by the Israeli authorities, and condemns any violations (e.g. house demolitions, forced displacements, public service limitations); calls also, in this context, for the withdrawal of the Prawer Plan by the Israeli Government.”

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One comment

  1. The Bedouins of Israel have serious complaints.
    1) They’re upset Israel built a border fence on its border with Egypt, which unfairly hinders the smugglers’ ability to continue in a lucrative business of arms, drugs and female slave trade. They correctly feel they’ve been singled out.

    2) Traditionally, many prefer the nomadic life to the urban. Constantly moving, building camps for months at a time before moving on, they are unsympathetically harassed by local municipalities for leaving tons of waste and garbage on public lands and sometimes in national parks.

    3) Not having a permanent address, many work outside the laws. Paying no taxes and accumulating great wealth, much of which is invested in the purchase and/or construction of huge luxury ‘summer homes’. They object to Israels refusal to give them free public lands to roam, while pressuring them to live in their family villas.

    As you can see, the problem is complicated, and not any fu(kin business of the The European Parliament, since, not all Bedouin are portrayed as THEY think, nor, as described above.

    Many live in proper villages throughout Israel, from the Negev in the South, to the Galilee in the North. They are a vibrant and productive part of Israeli society in all it’s aspects including the defense if Israel as equal members of the I.D.F.

    I have been honored to defend & fight along Bedouin soldiers protecting Israel’s northern border against infiltrating armed terrorists. Their contributions to Israel are immeasurable.

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