Middle East minister challenges Israel envoy over West Bank demolitions
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Middle East minister challenges Israel envoy over West Bank demolitions

Alistair Burt calls on Mark Regev to speak out over the raising of school buildings in a Bedouin village

 Middle East Minister Alistair Burt speaking at Yachad's event
 Middle East Minister Alistair Burt speaking at Yachad's event

Middle East Minister Alistair Burt has said he challenged the Israeli ambassador on the demolition of school buildings in a Bedouin village in the West Bank.

Answering questions in the House of Commons, Burt said he used a meeting with Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev last week, ahead of an Israeli High Court ruling on Wednesday.

The case concerns the planned demolition of school buildings in the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar which has, since 1952, housed a Bedouin tribe expelled from the Negev by the Israeli military.

The village has since grown ever closer to the large and expanding settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, and has become strategically important, being one of the last Palestinian areas in the E1 corridor linking the West Bank to East Jerusalem.

Israeli authorities first sought to remove the villagers in 2010, with a plan to relocate them to the Jordan Valley, but residents said the site would be “like a prison for us”.

The school buildings, located near Israel’s Highway 1, have been built with international funding and are described as eco-friendly.

However pressure to demolish over 250 Bedouin buildings have been put on authorities by Jewish residents in three neighbouring Jewish settlements.

In his Commons answer, Burt noted the UK’s concerns, saying: “We have repeatedly called on the Israeli authorities to halt proposals to demolish this community, and we will continue to make representations including in discussions with the Israeli Ambassador this week.”

He added that an official from the UK’s Consulate-General in Jerusalem attended an event on 18 April in Khan al-Ahmar “to show our support for the community”.

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