UNRWA Calls for Bedouin Relocation Plan to Be Scrapped

Civil Administration plans to relocate some 12,500 Bedouin from areas east of Jerusalem to new town near Jericho.

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The site of the planned Bedouin township of Nu’eimeh.
The site of the planned Bedouin township of Nu’eimeh. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

The United Nations refugee agency for Palestine issued a statement on Sunday calling on the international community to step up its opposition of an Israel plan to transfer thousands of Bedouin from the central West Bank to a new town near Jericho.

Implementation of the plan would "give rise to concerns that it amounts to a ‘forcible transfer’ in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” said Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

“It might also make way for further Israeli illegal settlement expansion, further compromising the viability of a two state-solution,” Krähenbühl added.

The intention of Israel's Civil Administration to expel some 12,500 Bedouin from land east of Jerusalem and resettle them near Jericho in the yet-to-be-created town of Nueima was revealed in two plans published over the past few weeks.

“I urge the Israeli authorities not to proceed with the transfer of these communities and I also urge the donor and state community to take a firm stand against it,” Krähenbühl said.

“The humanitarian impact of the planned transfer could be immense.”

In 1997, several Bedouin communities were transferred to an area around the largest landfill in the West Bank, at al Jabal, resulting in the collapse of their pastoralist economies and irreversible damage to their social fabric and rural way of life.

Many of the Bedouin targeted for transfer have resided in their current locations for decades, having fled to the area from their traditional ancestral lands as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict and are unable to go back. Following the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, these communities have witnessed the growth of Israeli settlements around them.

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