Photo Credit: courtesy, Ishmael Khaldi /FB
Khawalid resident and Foreign Ministry employee Ishmael Khaldi appeals to Knesset committee on behalf of his community.

Thd Special Committee for Distributive Justice and Social Equality voted Tuesday to pave an access road to Khawalid, a “recognized” Bedouin town in the Zevulun Valley in northern Israel, prompting a celebration among members of the community, according to Ishmael Khaldi, a resident of the town and the first Bedouin ever to become a diplomat working for the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

It’s the first step in a long, long process for something that should have automatically been done years ago — and in a Jewish community on the “inside” side of the 1949 Armistice Line, would never even have been questioned. (We all know about the construction questions on the “other” side of that line.)

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The initiative, which included a motion to keep the town’s nursing mothers’ clinic open as well, was advanced by Mks Anat Berko, Hamad Amar and Osama Sadj. In addition, the marketing of lots for construction of homes is to be changed by the Israel Lands Administration, with preference for military veterans.”

There were also questions raised about why the local Zevulun Council had dragged its feet on the simple, years-long request to pave the two-kilometer access road to the community.

But Khawalid has been a legally recognized part of Israel’s social and municipal framework for decades, whose members are tax-paying Israeli citizens, including many who serve in the IDF.

So what took so long?

Khaldi preferred to focus on the positive. “It was a historic day at the Knesset!” he wrote in a jubilant Facebook post following the meeting.

“It was a big success, and a beginning of a new era.”

Earlier in the week, Khaldi commented that “some of the issues are unprecedented in policy-making for the Bedouin community.

“It’s taken a long time to get to this point, to achieve equal treatment, just solutions and the right to deserved needs being met while living as a proud Israeli community. But although things are not yet settled, we hope it’s the beginning of a change.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.