Bedouin School Faces Demolition as Settlement Plans Education Complex

Kfar Adumim aims to expand its built-up area.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Amira Hass
Amira Hass

Authorities in the West Bank settlement of Kfar Adumim, together with the regional council, are planning construction of an educational complex about a kilometer outside the settlement’s built-up area.

Meanwhile, Kfar Adumim officials have been pressing the Civil Administration to demolish a school built without a permit by Bedouin from tires and tents at an encampment about a mile from the proposed education complex. Settlement officials have also sought to have other structures in the Bedouin encampment demolished that have been on the site since before the Jewish settlement was built there in 1979. The Civil Administration has refused to issue a master plan for construction in the area in which the Bedouin have settled, making it impossible to obtain permits for construction at the Bedouin site.

Kamil Natour, a Jerusalem lawyer representing the village of Anata and a number of individual village residents who oppose the construction of the education complex at Kfar Adumim, told Haaretz that although the new plans purport to provide regional facilities for residents of the area, such facilities already exist across the highway at the much larger settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. “It’s a pretentious project designed from the beginning to waste additional land so that it is not at the disposal of the Palestinians,” he claimed.

Shlomo Lecker, who represents the Bedouin living at the encampment near Kfar Adumim, said the plans to expand the Jewish settlement are consistent with efforts by the Civil Administration to relocate the Bedouin against their will to other areas, while refusing to allow them to develop in the area where they are currently settled. Over the years, the municipal boundaries of Kfar Adumim have been extended to include about 7,400 dunams, or 1,850 acres. Plans call for construction of the education complex on a 218-duman site, about 54 acres, on land registered to the West Bank Palestinian village of Anata, land that before the 1967 Six-Day War was registered as Jordanian state land. After the war, it was designated as belonging to the custodian of abandoned West Bank land.

The plans for the education complex were commissioned by the local planning department of the Mateh Binyamin region, and have received the approval of the Civil Administration of the Israel Defense Forces, which has overall jurisdiction in the area. The proposal calls for construction of a hall for public gatherings, sports center, community center, field school, museum and galleries. It also provides for sports equipment for a future regional park. The plans were advertised in the Palestinian media in early December, allowing the public, as required by law, to object to the proposal.

In October of last year, the High Court of Justice rejected a petition by Kfar Adumim to have a Bedouin school and other structures in the encampment demolished, but the Civil Administration is continuing to proceed with plans that would call for the demolition of the encampment, including the school built of tires. The plans call for the relocation against their will of the Bedouin of the area, together with other Bedouin in two existing Palestinian villages near the West Bank city of Jericho.

The High Court rejected the Bedouin’s claims that they were being unjustly discriminated against in favor of the needs of the Jewish settlers in the area. The court agreed with the state’s position that the Bedouin should be relocated, albeit with their consent if possible.

The area near Kfar Adumim where the educational facilities are planned for construction. Credit: Emil Salman

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