A new way of imagining space has emerged. After fragmenting the surface of the West Bank by walls and other barriers, Israeli planners started attempting to weave it together as two separate but overlapping national geographies – two territorial networks overlapping across the same area in three dimensions, without having to cross or come together.
One is an upper-land – the land of the settlements – a scattering of well-tended hilltop neighborhoods woven together by modern highways for the exclusive use of its inhabitants; the other, Palestine – crowded cities, towns and villages that inhabit the valleys between and underneath the hills, maintaining fragile connections on improvised underpasses. Within this new political space, separate security corridors, infrastructure, bridges and underground tunnels have been woven into a bewildering and impossible Escher-like territorial arrangement that struggles to multiply a single territorial reality.
After 60 years of hostility, three new books offer a new light and direction for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Lords of the Land: The War for Israel’s Settlements in the Occupied Territories, 1967-2007 by Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar, Hollow Land: Israel’s Acrchitecture of Occupation by Eval Weizman and Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance by John Berger. Excerpts from these books are highlighted in the following slideshow below: