A BEDUIN SCHOOLGIRL looks out the window of her classroom at the Al-Khan al-Ahmar school, near the West Bank city of Jericho..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Now I don’t want to ruin anyone’s vacation, but the next time you are heading for some R&R at the Dead Sea via Jerusalem, pay close attention to the scenery on the sides of the road.
Over the past decade there has been a huge upsurge in the number of structures going up in illegal Beduin villages and encampments on both sides of Highway 1, from the entrance to the city through what is known as the “E1” area between Jerusalem and the “Adumims” all the way down the mountain toward the Dead Sea.
So why should some illegal Beduin structures spoil your trip? Because these aren’t just small herding communities as they would appear, but strategically placed mini-towns set up by the Palestinian Authority and financed by the European Union to the tune of hundreds of millions of euros, with the explicit goal of taking over strategic lands in Area C with the aim of creating a de facto Palestinian state.
This plot is clearly outlined in a lengthy 2009 policy paper by then Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad. Known as the Fayyad Plan, the logic was that by creating substantial facts on the ground, the PA with the support of the international community would lay claim to those areas, and demand that they be part of “Palestine” in any future negotiations with Israel.
And that’s where the EU comes in – to serve as the key financier of the project. Over 1,000 illegal structures – including houses, bathrooms, storage spaces, etc., with more being erected nearly daily throughout Judea and Samaria, now proudly bear the EU flag. The EU’s false claim is that it is involved in these building endeavors for “humanitarian purposes” to provide for the Beduin in these areas.
Ironic though, that the EU symbol can only be seen on structures in Area C; none can be found in areas A or B, nor can they be found in Beduin communities throughout the rest of the Middle East. It makes you wonder.
The flagship illegal encampment just outside Kfar Adumim, which has become the symbol of this story, is the community of al-Khan al-Ahmar whose structures literally spill out onto the shoulders of the highway.
Just this week, the Jerusalem Post
reported that France is ‘concerned’ that Israel will finally act on a court-ordered demolition order and take down the illegal structures there, including the well-known Italian-funded ‘ecological’ school.
In that school, Palestinian children are cynically used as pawns by the PA, bused in from areas A and B thus forced to travel far distances, instead of attending their local schools. The school is not only dangerous for the children because of its proximity to the highway, but our organization Regavim has video documentation of children from the school hurling rocks down on motorists below.
Therefore in 2009 Regavim filed the initial petition against the community with the High Court of Justice. But eight years later it remains standing. Just this past summer rumors circulated that the Civil Administration was preparing to take action, starting with the dismantling of the school. But once the first of day of classes began, it was clear it wasn’t going to happen.
Imagine the images broadcast to the world of the “evil” Israelis tearing down a school, regardless of its status, on September 1. The Fayyad Plan had hopes for this very type of dilemma for Israel, with its emphasis on taking over strategic areas through the building of schools.
Perhaps this time around the Civil Administration will fulfill its duties and dismantle the entire encampment once and for all, thus upholding the law. But according to the Post
report, the villagers’ attorney is turning to the Supreme Court asking that its decision be overturned.
Between the petition and the EU pressure, the Civil Administration has its hands full, but should nevertheless enforce the court’s initial ruling.
It’s important to note that despite the illegal PA/EU activity carried out by the Beduin squatting throughout the Adumim area, the government has repeatedly gone out of its way to offer permanent housing solutions for these families.
Blueprints for the establishment of a legal town to be called Ramat Nueimah near Jericho were drawn up, but that plan has been shelved for the time being. This was a result of the PA leadership (and the EU) refusing to accept a practical solution which would enhance the lives of these Beduin, but would lessen their grip on that strategic corridor.
The bottom line is that there are opportunities for these people, but at this point there are no takers.
So when you are heading down toward the Dead Sea, have a look at the situation for yourselves and realize that there is a lot more going on on the global scale than meets the eye. The shanty towns, with many structures bearing the EU logo, are there with a devious and diabolical purpose in mind.
The author is the international director for Regavim, a think-tank dedicated to researching land issues throughout Israel.