The UN's "Palestinian refugee agency" UNRWA on Sunday urged the international community to oppose Israeli plans to relocate thousands of Palestinian Bedouin from the E1 and Maaleh Adumim areas east of Jerusalem, to the area around Jericho, next to the Dead Sea.
"If such a plan were implemented this would ... give rise to concerns that it amounts to a 'forcible transfer' in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention" banning involuntary population relocation in occupied territory, UNRWA Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl said.
"It might also make way for further Israeli illegal settlement expansion, further compromising the viability of a two-state solution," he said in a statement. "I urge the Israeli authorities not to proceed with the transfer...and I also urge the donor and state community to take a firm stand against it."
A meeting on international aid to the Palestinian Arabs is to be held in New York on Monday.
UNRWA added that most of those slated for resettlement to Jericho, in the east of the Palestinian Authority territory, were registered Palestinian refugees.
The IDF Civil Administration said there were various plans to rehouse Bedouin and they were being conducted in consultation with community leaders. "As part of the effort to draft master plans for the benefit of the area's Bedouin population, whose purpose is to enable the Bedouin to live in places with suitable infrastructure, dozens of meetings were held with Bedouin leaders," the Administration said in a written response to AFP. "Several plans to prepare such places have been advanced, partly through such meetings."
Haaretz claimed that an original scheme to relocate one tribe had grown to a plan to move about 12,500 Bedouin from the Jahalin, Kaabneh and Rashaida tribes.
UNRWA said that among those slated for resettlement were people residing "in the E1 and Maale Adumim areas near Jerusalem, which have been slated for new Israeli settlement development."
Israel has been planning construction in E1 since the early 1990s. Plans for building 1,200 homes unveiled in December 2012 were quickly put on the back burner after the announcement triggered a major diplomatic backlash.
The Palestinian Arabs say construction in E1 would effectively cut their territory in two and prevent the creation of any contiguous Palestinian state.