BERLIN – The Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament on
Thursday prevented an Israeli official from participating in panel discussion on
the Israeli Beduin community, which degenerated into a anti-Israel hate
festival, Israeli diplomats said.
Véronique De Keyser, a socialist MEP
from Belgium, led the seminar sponsored by the group titled “Beduin in the
Naqab/Negev: Dreams and Nightmare.”
David Saranga, head of Israel’s
European Parliament Liaison Department Mission to the European Union in
Brussels, told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday evening that during the event,
organizers displayed a poster saying: “Stop Prawer-Begin Plan, no ethnic
cleansing of Palestinian Beduin.”
He criticized the panel for exploiting
the Beduin as a Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment tactic against Israel.
a letter to European Parliament President Martin Schulz and Socialist group
President Hannes Swoboda, Israeli Ambassador to the EU David Walzer wrote: “It
is unacceptable that a poster accusing Israel of ‘ethnic cleansing’ toward the
Beduin population in the Negev was used during the event hosted by the S&D
Group. Europeans and Israelis are fully aware of the possible consequences of
the irresponsible use of such words. I hope that you would agree with us that
this is certainly not the best way to handle a constructive dialogue on ‘the
state of play of the Prawer-Begin Plan.’” Israel plans to develop the Negev for
new residential communities and military bases. The Prawer- Begin Plan seeks to
regulate Arab settlement in the Negev by legalizing ownership to 63 percent of
land claimed by Beduin, to compensate them with land and cash and work to
improve their standard of living.
Schulz has not issued a
The S&D Group rejected the full participation in the
seminar of Doron Almog, director of the Directorate for Economic and Community
Development of the Negev Beduin in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Kamel Abu Nadi, a representative of the Bedouin community, addressed a separate
panel on the same day sponsored by the Delegation for Relations with Israel in
the European Parliament. They provided first-hand information concerning the
Prawer-Begin bill and its ramifications.
Saranga told the Post,
“Unfortunately, the organizers [of the Socialists’ seminar] systematically
rejected our many requests to host an Israeli official as a
“They only agreed to give Mr. Almog the floor for five
minutes during the debate. This is not certainly not the way to handle a
All this makes me fear that the real objective of this seminar
is not to improve the living conditions of the Israeli Beduin but rather to
cynically exploit this crucial issue to bash again Israel. This is certainly not
the best way to conduct a constructive dialogue,” Saranga said.
overwhelming majority of Beduin support the plan and only a small percentage are
against, he said.
Everyone who wanted to know the position of Israeli on
Beduin came to the event organized by the Delegation for Relations with Israel,
and the “number of MEPs and staff who attended our event was bigger” than for
the discussion organized by De Keyser, Saranga said.
De Keyser, vice
chairman of the S&D Group, was slammed by socialists in Belgium for her
decision to visit President Bashar Assad in September. Belgium newspaper Le
Soir quoted the spokesman of her party saying it in no way endorsed her trip.
Meeting Assad granted him legitimacy and was incomprehensible, he added.
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