Monday, September 25, 2017

Israelís Bedouin solution: from garbage dump to settlement area


By Fatima Masri - June 26, 2013
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Abu Dis] [Area C] [Displacement] [E1] [Bedouin] [Nuweimeh Plan]

Photo Credit: Lazar Simeonov 

 

The current Israeli Defence Force (IDF) proposal sets the town of Nuweimeh, near Jericho, as an alternative to Abu Dis, deemed hazardous for health by Israel's Environmental Protection Ministry for its proximity to a garbage dump, for the resettlement of rural Bedouin communities living in the Jerusalem periphery. Since its independence, Israel has been trying to find a solution to its “Bedouin problem”, namely how to displace around 2,300 people from the E-1 zone on the outskirts of Jerusalem in order to ensure territorial contiguity between the city and the settlement of Ma’ale Adummim. 

 
The newly planned destination is considered no less a threat to the Bedouin’s safety than the previous location. Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, Advocacy Officer of the Jahilin Association, points out that Nuweimeh is squashed between a settlement and a checkpoint, making clashes inevitable. The few Bedouin communities already settled there live almost solely on UN food parcels, as the land is unfavourable to grazing and there are no work opportunities. 
 
The “Nuweimeh Plan” does not rule out the original possibility of a Bedouin transfer to the Abu Dis garbage dump, an area already inhabited by around 50 Bedouins who have been forcibly displaced to make place for the surrounding settlements of Ma’ale Adummim, Kidar, Mishor and Adummim. As Angela Godfrey-Goldstein explains, redirecting the Bedouins to Nuweimeh rather than a location which poses a threat to health could speed up the process, but this does not mean that relocation near the garbage dump has been out ruled. Different options are being examined in order to find a suitable location for a large scale “Bedouin village”. In this perspective, the “Nuweimeh Plan” is the most far reaching one as it could potentially absolve Israel of its sphere of responsibility regarding a large portion of it’s current Bedouin population.
 
According to Shlomo Lecker, an Israeli human rights attorney representing the Bedouins in the E-1 zone, the intent of the Israeli government is to gradually push all Bedouins out of Area C, the 62% of the West Bank that falls under complete Israeli civil and military control, and relocate them to Area A, under complete control of the Palestinian Authority. Currently, around 27,500 Bedouins live in Area C, around 55% of the total Bedouin population of the West Bank. By pushing the Bedouin out of Area C and into Area A, the Bedouin would fall under PA jurisdiction and completely out of Israel’s. 
 
The Israeli plan to uproot the Bedouin communities is part of a broader “quiet transfer” strategy, which entails the progressive displacement of the Palestinian population into small and impoverished enclaves, making the realization of Palestinian self-determination impossible. The Oslo Accords framed the administrative division of the West Bank into three areas of control (Areas A, B and C) as a temporary measure, to enable the progressive transfer of power to the Palestinian Authority. Israel has been bending international law to its advantage, turning its administrative power in Area C in a tool to massively displace the Palestinian population as part of the broader plan of a Jewish only land. This aim is evident when one examines figures of house demolition. Palestinians account for about 20% of what is deemed by the Israeli government as illegal construction, however over 75% of the demolitions target Palestinian homes. 
 
According to a study conducted by the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), since 1997 around 150 families of Palestinian Bedouin refugees have been forced out of their homes in the Jerusalem district to make room for the settlement of Ma’ale Addumim, Israel’s third largest settlement bloc. Disruption of the sense of spatial security due to the merging of separate kinship groups in the same area is one of the consequences of displacement. This leads to social isolation and to the restriction of women’s movement, perceived by men as endangered by the presence of unrelated communities.
 
International law prohibits the transfer of “protected persons” such as the Bedouins unless it is mandated by military urgency or serves the needs of the local population. Even under such circumstances, the solution must only be adopted on a temporary basis.
 
Even though Israel officially expresses the intention of conducting peaceful negotiations with the Bedouin, the use of force against its Bedouin population − two thirds of which are children – has been regularly documented . The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territory (OCHA) states that, as an occupying power, Israel has the duty to protect the civilian population. Amnesty International, among other organizations, argues that forced relocation of Bedouin communities could legally be considered a war crime.  

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