The Negev: Land, Settlement, the Bedouin and Ottoman and British Policy 1871–1948
Focusing on the sub-district of Beersheba in British Mandatory Palestine, we examine issues of colonial administration, land use, relations between the government and indigenous nomads and extension of government control over marginal regions. Based on archival primary written sources and maps, we assess British Mandatory policy in the Negev, in the contexts of land ownership, settlement and the Bedouin population. The British Mandatory administration inherited a Southern Palestine Negev region that had been affected by a robust Ottoman policy of increasing administrative intervention, policing, land settlement and overall projection of government power. During 30 years of Mandatory rule, the policy was markedly different. The Beersheba sub-district, which incorporated almost half the area of Mandatory Palestine, was a unique administrative unit, populated almost entirely by nomadic Bedouins. Although the Mandatory authorities foresaw land settlement and sedenterisation as a goal in Palestine, they did not apply their administrative apparatus to fulfil this policy in the Negev, neglecting much of it.
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