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Creating the Palestinian Ghetto
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After the 1967 war, Israel's overriding political concern was to balance its desire for more Palestinian land with the unwelcome presence of actual Palestinians Groping for a solution, officials devised plans for a Palestinian "enclave," "self-governing region," "autonomous area," or even "mini-state." The details of each scheme were different, but they shared the goal of gaining as much Palestinian land with as few Palestinians as possible. As Israel searched for a solution, some politicians recognized the risks involved in creating a permanent Palestinian enclave in the West Bank surrounded by Israeli settlers and troops. In 1967, for example, one cabinet minister protested, "We can't say that it [the West Bank] is all ours, and that in the middle we are going to make a ghetto for 1 million Arabs, informing them, ‘do as we tell you.’" Or as another minister warned, international anti-colonial sentiment was such that it was impossible to create "a piece of territory inhabited mostly by Arabs whose security and foreign relations we control." Who, the minister asked incredulously, would tolerate such a colonial anachronism?[4] For the most part, however, Israeli leaders pushed these dilemmas aside, avoiding substantive discussion of the contradiction between land and population. By the late 1970s, observers began to speak of Israel's "creeping annexation" of Palestinian lands and by the mid-1980s, a generation of Jewish-Israelis had grown up assuming that the West Bank and Gaza were integral parts of Israel. A subordinate Palestinian enclave had become reality, although it was never officially acknowledged as such by either Jewish or Palestinian political elites.

From 1967 to 1987, Israel consolidated its infrastructural regime of power over Palestine by sealing the enclave's external borders, crushing internal armed resistance, rationalizing its mechanisms of control, and integrating its economy.

Sealing the Ghetto's Borders

As the Kosovo case made clear, an area's effective transformation into a ghetto-like enclave requires that its borders be effectively controlled by the dominant state. Shortly after the 1967 occupation, Israel realized it could not properly control the West Bank unless it had sealed its boundaries. Palestinian guerrillas, like their Kosova Liberation Army counterparts years later, understood this fact all too well. If the guerrillas could not maintain a physical link to the homeland, their credibility and effectiveness

would be imperiled.[5] Palestinian fighters chose to try to penetrate the West Bank's border with Jordan because of that country's substantial Palestinian refugee population and the length of the boundary. The largest Palestinian guerrilla group, Fatah, was the first to launch cross-border raids, and its (modest) battlefield success near the border town of Karameh provided it with thousands of new recruits, prompting other Palestinian groups to mount their own cross-border infiltration efforts.[6]

To a significant extent, Palestinian guerrillas modeled their cross-border efforts on the experiences of Algerian and Vietnamese guerrillas.[7] Jordan, in this view, was to become a North Vietnam-style rear base, while the West Bank was to be the "South Vietnam" battlefield. In those years, Palestinians often situated their struggle within the larger global anti-colonial and anti-Western movement. The 1969 Fatah mission statement, for example, noted that the "struggle of the Palestinian people, like that of the Vietnamese … and other peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America, is part of the historic process of the liberation of the oppressed peoples from colonialism and imperialism."[8] The Algerian example was of particular relevance, as Algeria had just won independence from French colonial rule, and cross-border efforts had been integral to the process.[9] Algerian leaders, moreover, played a key role in promoting the creation of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1964.[10] The Vietnam war was still ongoing during Fatah's early years, and cross-border infiltration was a crucial theme there as well. Drawing on these experiences, Palestinian guerrillas hoped to mount a similar effort along the Jordanian border, slipping across the valley floor, hiking up through Israeli-controlled foothills, and then joining armed supporters in the West Bank highlands.

Israel launched a vigorous border patrol effort, destroying Palestinian border villages, laying minefields, building fences, plowing tracking roads, and laying ambushes.[11] It was aided by the terrain, which was not conducive to guerrilla infiltration. As one British journalist noted, "The West Bank is not Vietnam," since its mountains "are empty and stony. Movement is easy to spot and control. Crossing the river Jordan, infiltrators have to climb out of the deep valley, to labor up rocky slopes carrying heavy arms and equipment."[12] Equally debilitating were political complications. Jordan eventually proved inhospitable, as the monarchy was eager to maintain good relations with the United States, Britain, and even Israel.[13] In 1970–71 Jordanian troops moved against the guerrillas, forcing them flee to Lebanon in a series of events known to Palestinians

as "Black September."[14] Thereafter, Israel and Jordan worked jointly, if unofficially, to patrol their shared boundary, effectively sealing the West Bank off from external guerrillas. Shlomo Gazit, then a senior Israeli military officer in the West Bank, noted that "if not for this [Israeli] success in sealing the borders—i.e., had terrorists been able to infiltrate arms past the borders, or had terrorist bands been able to penetrate and establish themselves inside the territories—then internal security problems would most certainly have been of an entirely different nature."[15] And, he might have added, the Palestinian ghetto would never have emerged.

Suppressing Internal Armed Resistance

At the same time, Israeli forces were vigorously stamping out military challenges within the Palestinian enclave itself. As Serbia discovered in Kosovo during 1998, a state cannot legitimately claim a monopoly over organized violence if it loses empirical sovereignty. After 1967, therefore, Israeli attempts to suppress armed Palestinian resistance from within the West Bank and Gaza became crucial to the Israeli control efforts, as well as becoming a vital way station on the road to Palestinian ghetto formation.

In summer 1967, Fatah leader Yasser Arafat infiltrated the West Bank, hoping to organize an internal armed insurgency. Arafat and his colleagues traveled the West Bank for months, and although they did recruit some willing supporters, their campaign largely failed.[16] Local Palestinian elites feared Israeli and Jordanian reprisals, and the guerrillas' support within the broader Arab world was weak. Israel's counterinsurgency apparatus, led by its internal security services (known then as the Shin Bet, or Sherutei Bitachon), was also tremendously effective. Together, these factors militated against a successful armed insurgency, and by 1971, Israel had effectively eliminated all serious external and internal armed challenges to its rule, wedging the Palestinian enclave firmly within its walls. As Black and Morris explain,

[Israel's] sealing of the border with Jordan meant that the West Bank was almost completely cut off from the outside world; its population—a large part of the Palestinian people—isolated and controlled by their occupier. There were no "no-go" areas for the Israelis, no "liberated zones" where resistance could flourish.… This [Israeli] success prevented the Palestinians from launching a people's war at the very moment that their ideology required it.


As a result, they note, the Palestinian occupied territories "never became Algeria or Vietnam."[17] Although these models had originally inspired the Palestinian guerrilla movement, circumstances militated against their Middle Eastern application. Israel had cut Palestine off from the outside world and Palestinian insurgents were unable to mount an effective armed challenge from within. The West Bank and Gaza were not formally part of Israel; increasingly, however, they were being drawn into the state as subordinate members of the Israeli polity.

Rationalizing Israel's Control Mechanisms

Israeli military and civilian agencies also cast a tightly woven administrative web across the West Bank and Gaza, setting up a centralized hierarchy of commands and responsibilities and incorporating the region into Israel's bureaucracy.[18] This rationalization of control was a key source of Israel's growing levels of infrastructural power in Palestine. As a first step, Israeli forces established a grid of regional jurisdictions, leaving no corner of the West Bank and Gaza without a military commander. In 1981, the army placed the West Bank under the military's Central Command and folded Gaza into the southern equivalent, merging Palestine into the army's administrative framework for Israel proper. More importantly, the government extended the authority of Israel's civilian ministries to Palestine soon after the occupation began. "Once the territories had been occupied," Gazit explains, "there was no point in establishing a separate machinery alongside the regular civilian administration of Israel's government ministries … it was both necessary and desirable that one control center should direct … activity in Israel and the territories … any separation … would have created thorny problems of coordination."[19] Thus, for example, the Israeli ministry of health took responsibility for Palestinian hospitals, while the ministry of internal affairs issued Palestinians identity cards and travel documents. Formally, Israel's civilian bureaucrats worked in Palestine only through the military command, but in practice, Israel was developing a new militarycivilian hybrid tying Palestine to Israel's civilian bureaucracy.

Bureaucratic incorporation was matched by the military government's urge to enumerate, monitor, and survey as many Palestinian objects as possible. In 1970, for example, the military published an exquisitely detailed report on the Palestinian economy and population, listing the precise number of licensed carpenters, printing presses, fire trucks, and water wells.[20] The report even made detailed inventories of

Palestinian workshops for cement, furniture, cigarettes, soap, metals, olive products, and sweets.[21] Nothing was too small to count, and no object was too minor to register. Perhaps most significant in this respect was the state's registration of the Palestinian population itself and its creation of detailed document-verification procedures.[22] Each Palestinian received a numbered card from the state that had to be carried at all times, facilitating the military's ability to track dissidents and rebels.

Israeli administrative control soon became a double-edged sword, however, since by inscribing Palestinian lives and assets into Israel's bureaucratic registries, those entities were transformed into objects of state responsibility. As Israeli leader Ben Gurion had warned in 1947, Israel's decision to issue identity papers to Palestinians eventually served as a constraint on Israeli policy. Identity papers did not entitle Palestinians to political rights within Israel, but they did create a bureaucratic status that would, eventually, be transformed into a diluted form of polity membership. If a Palestinian disappeared, the authorities could not deny his or her existence, since that person was registered with the ministry of interior; villages or property could not be destroyed at will, since they had been given an official bureaucratic niche, and by counting, registering, and controlling them, Israel had assumed a modicum of moral and legal responsibility for their fate.

Israel's imposition of an elaborate "law-and-order" structure in Palestine was another key mechanism for rationalizing state power. Immediately upon seizing the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, for example, the military proclaimed that "the Israel Defense Forces have today entered this area and assumed responsibility for security and maintenance of public order."[23] Soon after, Israeli civilian police were deployed into the area, inserting Israeli officers over local Palestinian personnel.[24] The military's legal division generated comprehensive laws regulating most aspects of Palestinian life, and by 1992, the authorities had issued over 1,300 new laws and regulations.[25] Some of those laws were entirely appropriate to Palestine's status as occupied military territory, but others seem to have been driven by an urge to rationalize, control, and administer. The first category includes Order #329, which defined the term "infiltrator," and Order #1099, which specified the powers of Israeli prison guards. The second, more intrusive category includes Order #306, which determined the number of Palestinian sheep-grazing permits, and Order #1147, which specified the military permits Palestinian vegetable growers were required to obtain.

Legal scholars debated the precise status of the occupied territories

and Israel's rights and obligations as an occupying power.[26] Israeli representatives, for example, rejected the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to the West Bank and Gaza, arguing that sovereignty had been disputed prior to 1967, and that the territories were therefore "administered" lands whose political status was to be determined. Palestinian and international scholars disputed this interpretation, regarding it as justification for colonization and annexation. Another debate focused on the jurisdiction and fairness of the Israeli Supreme Court. Israel's defenders highlighted the court's rulings against Israeli military actions as evidence of Israel's respect for legality, while critics noted that the judges rarely argued with the military on any point of substance, suggesting that the court's main job was to legitimize Israeli rule.

Regardless of their merits, these debates obscured a broader institutional point. Israel had acknowledged its legal responsibility for events in Palestine, informing domestic and international audiences that the region was under its empirical and juridical sovereignty. As the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem pointed out, "Since 1967, the IDF [Israeli military] has borne overall responsibility for maintaining law and order in the [occupied] Territories. International law obligates, therefore, the IDF to protect the life, person, and property of all Palestinians under its control."[27] Had the region been constituted as a frontier, Israeli officials would not have been obliged to accept responsibility for it. Palestinian interests were subordinated to those of Israel, but Jewish domination was enacted through public laws, regulations, and administrative decisions. Palestinian subordination was "lawfully" conducted in full public view, presenting a very different model than that of Bosnia, where non-Serbs were assaulted by clandestine, irregular militias operating through illegal channels.

Integrating the Ghetto Economy

After 1967, Israeli increasingly folded the Palestinian economy into that of Israel, transforming the West Bank and Gaza into dependent, laborexporting enclaves. The first steps were taken soon after the war, primarily at the instigation of the then-Israeli defense minister, Moshe Dayan, who issued permits to Palestinians seeking work in Israel. Dayan's plan was to stabilize the occupation and provide the military with tools to punish Palestinians should they choose to rebel. "If Hebron's electricity grid comes from our [Israeli] central grid and we are able to pull the plug and thus cut them off," Dayan once explained, "this

is clearly better than a thousand curfews and riot-dispersals."[28] In 1983, that vision became reality when Palestinian municipalities were hooked up to the Israeli telephone and electricity systems.[29] When the Intifada began in late 1987, Israeli control over these and other essential services proved crucial.

As former West Bank military officer Shlomo Gazit acknowledged, Israel guided the process of economic integration to maximize benefits for Jewish economic and political interests. "Political considerations" led government ministers "to prefer … the Israeli economy over the needs of the territories," he wrote, and ministers were reluctant to "subordinate, even in the slightest, Israeli (perhaps even Jewish) economic interests for the good of the Arabs living in the territories." The Israeli government did so because it recognized that "its electorate lay entirely" within Israel.[30] Palestinians were drawn into Israel's economy, but only at its bottommost rungs. Some Palestinian enterprises competing with Israelis were denied permits, while others were driven out of business entirely by state-subsidized Jewish industries. As the two economies drew closer together, the effects of unequal competition proved increasingly prejudicial to Palestinian self-sufficiency.[31]

One of the most dramatic consequences was a marked shift in Palestinian employment patterns. In 1982, some 75,000 Palestinians worked for Jewish employers, but by the late 1980s, the number was closer to 100,000, representing almost 30 percent of the Palestinian labor force. "Non-citizen" Arabs, according to two Israeli sociologists, had become the "hewers of wood and the drawers of water" for the Jewish economy, performing the lowest paid, most physically taxing, and least intellectually demanding jobs. Palestinian occupational segregation was "extreme," they said, noting that Palestinians were dramatically "overrepresented at the bottom of the occupational ladder and underrepresented in the higher-status occupations."[32] With few legal rights, Palestinians were non-unionized and open to Jewish exploitation. "Non-citizen Arabs" were "placed at the end of the job queue, … [tended] to hold the least desirable jobs … [and found] work conditions even less negotiable than other subordinate groups," largely due to their "unique legal and political status" as non-citizen wards of Israel.[33] Although some Palestinians initially benefited from Israeli jobs, the economy as a whole developed a long-term and ultimately debilitating dependency.[34] When times turned bad, Palestinian laborers found themselves at the mercy of Israeli employers, border patrols, and economic cycles, while Jewish businessmen found alternative sources of cheap and compliant labor. By 1987, the

West Bank and Gaza had become almost "fully integrated ‘provinces’ of the Israeli economy," according to an Israeli economic team.[35]

Israel's efforts to consolidate its control had locked Palestine securely within the confines of the state. Its borders were sealed, its internal insurgents were crushed, and its bureaucratic, legal, and economic infrastructures were closely tied to those of Israel. Palestine might yet have wrenched itself from ghetto status had it succeeded in convincing Western powers and international institutions to support its cause. If NATO and the UN had behaved with Israel as they had with Serbia, threatening sanctions if Israel did not withdraw, things might have turned out differently. International forces did not pursue this course, however, despite some sympathy for the Palestinian cause and intense Palestinian diplomatic efforts.

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Creating the Palestinian Ghetto
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