Refugees with dwindling rights

To reach the Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, you drive due east on a new highway built through the Israeli-occupied West Bank, ignoring, if you can, the occasional Palestinian refugee camp in the distance. Developed under the administration of former Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to complete the Israeli encirclement of Jerusalem, Ma'ale Adumim is a major point of contention in the peace negotiations which have been restarted under Israel's new prime minister, Ehud Barak.

I got my first view of Ma'ale Adumim from a tent encampment, where I met with members of the Jahalin tribe of Bedouins, who were seeking to avoid being relocated by Israeli authorities. The Bedouins had already been forced to leave their grazing grounds in the Negev Desert. Now, to open up land for the further expansion of Ma'ale Adumim, they were to be moved to a new site—close to a garbage dump—unless they could persuade the Israeli courts to let them remain.

 

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