Traditionally the Jordan River has been their main source of water, but the Bedouin are denied access because the river is a military zone. The Bedouin take water from streams. But the Israelis dig deep artesian wells to access the underground water supply, so the streams have mainly dried up. Now they have to buy water from the same Israelis who took it from them.
The sheikh said that when the occupation of the West Bank started in 1967, his camp had included some 300 families amounting to 2,000 people. Now, just 16 families are left, scarcely amounting to 100 people.
″Some have sold their sheep and become workers in settlements,″ he told me. ″Others are unemployed. All the time we are chased and expelled from one area or another.″
UK government still echoes Balfour
The Israelis want to relocate the Bedouin to what are are frequently called townships and end their ancient nomadic way of life. There is a deep paradox lurking here. The Israelis impose their own arbitrary system of law on the West Bank. Yet the Israeli occupation is itself illegal under international law.
Yes, the Jews have the national homeland promised by the British a century ago. I wholeheartedly concur with a common British view that no other people have suffered as much as the Jews at the hands of persecutors throughout their extraordinary history. That is why I have always supported the existence of an Israeli state.
But May′s exclusion of Palestinians from her celebrations at the beginning of November reflects with uncanny accuracy the exclusion of Palestinians from the Balfour Declaration 100 years ago. The British treated the Palestinians as non-people then and still treat them as non-people today.
I believe this scornful neglect may be even more damaging for Israelis than it is for the Palestinians themselves, because it is such a betrayal of the idealistic and humane vision that brought Israel into being.
© Open Democracy 2017