Our second stop of the day dealt with the proposed forced resettlement of 30,000 Bedouin in the West Bank. The first group of over 2,000 people who are scheduled to be displaced live near Ma’ale Adumim, the third largest Jewish settlement in the West Bank that is situated just outside Jerusalem. We visited the edge of the huge Jerusalem garbage dump which is where this group of Bedouin will be forced to move.

The trash repository is an open air dump. There was a constant stream of large garbage trucks rumbling by on the road kicking up huge amounts of dust. Down the hill from where we stood, we saw the trucks dumping their loads, bulldozers moving the trash, and dust swirling in the wind. It was noisy, ugly and foul smelling. There is no open space with vegetation nearby for the Bedouin to graze their flocks, which is their livelihood.

If the Bedouin resist moving, the strategy will be to have bulldozers level their settlements. If they rebuild, the bulldozers come again. Eventually they get the message.

The reason this group of 2,000 is being moved is settlement expansion. In this particular case, many of these Bedouin live on land slated for the expansion of Ma’ale Adumim. This is a major construction project on the final piece of open land that connects Palestinian East Jerusalem with the West Bank. Once this expansion occurs, East Jerusalem will be completely cut off from the rest of the Palestinian Authority, severing what was once a vibrant economic corridor that sustained East Jerusalem and making it impossible for East Jerusalem to be the capital or even part of a future Palestinian state. The access road has already been built for this settlement expansion, utilities such as water are already in place, and a large police station has been constructed. They are just waiting for the bulldozers — which have been delayed due to American objections.

In addition, the road used by Palestinians that connects the southern and northern parts of the West Bank goes right through this land. Thus, when the construction is completed, the West Bank will effectively be cut into two non-contiguous cantonments, one in the north and one in the south.

With the large population that is planned for this new settlement area, the impact of this expansion on East Jerusalem and the West Bank will be difficult if not impossible to undo in any future peace agreement. Of course, this will dramatically increase the barriers to successful future negotiations.