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Israel plans relocation of Jordan Valley Bedouin

Ma'an News Agency

The Israeli military's Civil Administration on the West Bank has filed plans for establishing a new settlement in the Jordan Valley, where thousands of Bedouins will be forced to relocate. The Civil Administration is advancing several such plans. The current plan was drawn up without consulting the residents themselves, and is part of the Civil Administration's attempt to concentrate the Bedouins living in the West Bank's Area C in "permanent sites," with a view to annexing most of this area to Israel and leaving it free for settlement expansion. The new settlement for the relocated Bedouin, to be named Ramat Nu'eimeh, will be built in Area C near Jericho, in the Jordan Valley, and is slated to house about 12,500 people from Bedouin communities in the Jordan Valley and the Ma'ale Adumim area.

The first of three plans for the resettlement were filed on Aug. 25 for the Rashaydah tribe, which currently lives in the area. The new settlement will be surrounded from all sides by military-controlled zones and Israeli settlements, leaving the residents without grazing pastures for their livestock. In addition, the plans force different tribes and communities to live together, contrary to traditional practices.

Most Bedouin living in the West Bank arrived there after being expelled from their homes in the Negev desert in 1948. Ever since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, they have been forced to relocate several times to allow for Israeli settlements, firing zones, and new nature reserves. Hundreds of demolition orders have been issued against their homes and entire communities have been repeatedly expelled.

According to the Civil Administration, the plan's objective is to improve the standard of living in these communities and provide proper housing conditions. The  Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said the purpose of the new settlement is to "allow the community to settle in an organized area with proper, suitable infrastructure." But Israeli human rights watchdog B'Tselem is calling for the Civil Administration to immediately withdraw the resettlement plans, stating that any development plans impacting the Bedouin must be undertaken with their informed consent. (BTselem, Sept. 17)

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