Mohamed al-Korshan, representative of the Bedouin community in the West Bank, spoke May 24 at the 10th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York, where he appealed for recognition of his people as a displaced indigenous group living as refugees under occupation. Korshan said there are currently 40,000 Bedouin in the West Bank, who were separated from Bedouin tribes in the Negev desert after Israel became a state in 1948. They hold Palestinian identity documents, but many live in Area C of the West Bank, which is under direct Israeli military occupation. Others, who fled the Negev in 1948, are in UN-run refugee camps, where they have lost their traditional livelihood as nomads and are experiencing an erosion of their culture.
“Since the military occupation of the West Bank by Israel in 1967, the Bedouin in the West Bank are experiencing increasing duress,” Korshan said. “On a daily basis we encounter discrimination, social isolation, multiple counts of home demolition and dispossession, food and water insecurity, harassment by Israeli settlers, all of which constitute triggers to forced displacement.”
Al-Korshan called for recognition of his people’s cultural rights, and for creation of a Bedouin representative body with seats in the Palestinian legislative council. He called upon James Anaya, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, to visit the West Bank and open a study on the human rights of Bedouin. (WAFA, May 25; Haaretz, May 24)