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Volume 401: debated on Friday 14 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Israeli Government concerning (a) the resettlement of Bedouin in the Negev and (b) the provision of services to Bedouin in the Negev; and if he will make a statement. [101584]

The Israeli Cabinet will soon vote on a proposal to relocate 70,000 Bedu from the Negev to seven existing settlement areas. I have asked our Embassy in Tel Aviv to raise concerns about the treatment of the Bedu with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We continue to monitor developments closely.Our Ambassador in Tel Aviv visited the Bedu Regional Council of the Unrecognised Villages on 18 February as part of our Embassy's continuing dialogue with them. In 2002, our Embassy in Tel Aviv completed a successful advocacy-training programme for Bedu leaders and will shortly fund the construction of an 'environmental' medical centre for several unrecognised villages. The Regional Council has warmly welcomed our interest in, and support for, the Bedu's plight.