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Foreign Conflict Issues

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Foreign Conflict Issues

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Senator


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Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore)

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Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore)

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Snippet Contents:

Of the Arab population of Israel, about 170,000 are Bedouin living in the Negev desert in the south of the country. While none of these are any longer truly nomadic, they suffer from the difficulties common to non-settled communities in many developed countries, including in Europe, and other Bedouin living in many Arab countries in the region. These include lack of title to traditionally used lands and resources, pressure from a growing settled community, traditional distrust and disengagement from external official authority, difficulty in operating within a legal system developed for settled communities, lack of understanding and intermittent attention from public authorities, and lack of political weight in decisions which affect them. These are issues in many countries, not just Israel. It is an exaggeration to describe these as a policy of ethnic cleansing.
We have discussed more general issues relating to Arab citizens of Israel here in the Dáil in recent weeks. In relation to the Bedouin specifically, the most difficult problems relate to some 60,000 who live in as yet unrecognised villages, mostly in the area of and in some cases clustered around the rapidly growing city of Beersheva, one of Israel’s major cities and the principal centre for the southern half of the country.
While there are genuine planning and development needs in the vicinity of Beersheva, we clearly would expect that these must be addressed as much as possible through consultation, compromise and agreement, using the same standards applied for Israeli citizens generally. There have been a number of official inquiries and plans in recent years to address these issues, usually involving the recognition of some further Bedouin villages, and consolidation of existing unrecognised villages into these.
The implementation of these plans has sometimes been piecemeal and non-transparent, and it remains the case that a number of villages have seen repeated demolitions of homes and schools, in a way that I do not think would be considered acceptable in relation to the majority community in Israel. Indeed I cannot help contrasting this with the extreme reluctance of the Israeli Government to act against illegal Israeli settlements even where these have been ordered to be removed by Israeli courts. Both the EU and Ireland nationally have already raised these concerns with the Israeli authorities, and it will continue to feature in our dialogue about human rights issues in Israel.