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Hamdallah: Israeli plans to forcibly transfer Bedouins in E1 'cross a red line'

Nov. 28, 2017 2:54 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 29, 2017 3:25 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah released a statement on Monday expressing the government’s solidarity with the hundreds of Palestinian Bedouins in the community of Jabal al-Baba at risk of forcible displacement by the Israeli government.

Earlier this month
, Israeli forces distributed evacuation notices to all 300 Palestinian residents of the village in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, saying the residents had eight days to move to a “relocation site” designated for them by Israeli authorities.

The village is populated by some 55 Bedouin families who have inhabited the area for 65 years -- after being forced out of their original lands in 1948 when Israel was created -- and face constant threat of being expelled from their homes.

“As the Prime Minister of the State of Palestine, let me say clearly: we stand with our Palestinian citizens in Jabal al Baba, as well as with all of the other Palestinian communities across the West Bank that Israel seeks to displace in order to build illegal settlements in their place,” Hamdallah said.

The Prime Minister added that “if the Israeli authorities proceed with this demolition, or with the displacement of entire Palestinian communities in ‘Area C’ of the West Bank, a red line will have been crossed.”

Jabal al-Baba, like other Bedouin communities in the region, is under threat of forcible transfer by Israel for being located in the contentious “E1 corridor” set up by the Israeli government to link annexed East Jerusalem with the mega settlement of Maale Adumim.

Israeli authorities plan to build thousands of homes for Jewish-only settlements in E1, which would effectively divide the West Bank and make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state -- as envisaged by the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict -- almost impossible.

“Besides creating inhumane suffering, Israel’s plan to forcefully transfer as many as 46 Palestinian Bedouin communities located between Jerusalem and Jericho in the West Bank’s Area C has important and irreversible implications,” Hamdallah said.

He highlighted that if carried out, Israel’s E1 plan would not only disconnect occupied East Jerusalem from the West Bank, but would also “complete a stretch of illegal settlements from East Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, severing the West Bank into two for Palestinians.

“This development would spell the end of the internationally backed two-state solution by preventing the creation of a viable Palestinian state,” Hamdallah said, highlighting the disapproval of the plan by previous US government administrations as well as the European Union.

Hamdallah went on to urge Israel to end its illegal settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, to “seize its oppression” of Palestinian communities in Area C -- the more than 60 percent on the West Bank under full Israeli military and civilian control, and to “endorse and commit to the borders of 1967 as a basis for the two-state solution, in order to reach a just and lasting peaceful agreement between our two states.

On behalf of the Palestinian government, Hamdallah also urged the international community to take action and pressure Israel to comply with international law and to recognize Palestine as a state.

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