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Israel: 40.000 Negev Beduins risk forced resettlement

November 4 2011
Bedouin's plight: 'We want to maintain our traditions. But it's a dream here'. Way of life under threat as bill proposing resettlement of villagers to designated townships goes before Israeli parliament

Against the roar of Israeli military jets from a nearby airbase, Khalil Alamour considers what it means to be a Bedouin. "To be part of a family and tribe, to have open space, to have freedom to live in the traditional agricultural way that our forefathers lived in, to maintain our traditions and values, to be generous and offer good hospitality, to be patient, to help each other, to be human. The importance of the land is enormous, people are connected to the land, it is part of our dignity."

But the Bedouin's ancestral way of life in the Negev, a vast desert area in southern Israel, is facing a new threat from attempts to clear the arid hills and plains for property developments and swaths of forest.

In the coming days, a bill will be introduced in the Israeli parliament which proposes the resettlement of up to 40,000 inhabitants of dozens of "unrecognised" Bedouin villages in the Negev to specially designated townships. On Sunday the cabinet agreed to allow work to begin on 10 new Jewish settlements in the area "to attract a new population to the Negev".

Continue reading the full article in The Guardian, 3th November 2011