« | Home | »

Degrees of Loss

Tags: |

I recently returned to the US from a week in East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank. I arrived in the city on Sunday, 26 September, the day the temporary freeze on Israeli settlements was set to expire. I was staying with a friend in Sheikh Jarrah, metres away from where two Palestinian families were evicted from their homes last year; more are expected to be forced out in the coming months. As the end of the settlement freeze came and went, what struck me most about it, and about the latest round of peace negotiations of which it was a part, was their utter irrelevance to the realities of Palestinian life.

Settlements now control 42 per cent of the West Bank. The Arab population in Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem, East Jerusalem and elsewhere is being steadily boxed in, with declining access to water and other resources. Arab lands are being incorporated into Israel and consolidated into a new spatial order that aims to eliminate any physical separation between Israel and the settlements, thereby eliminating any possibility of a Palestinian state. In the West Bank, Israeli policy has clearly shifted from occupation to imposed sovereignty or de facto annexation.

One of the great achievements of Israeli policy over the last decade, with the support of a co-operative Palestinian Authority security structure, has been to make everyday life so difficult for the Palestinians that they have no energy left to oppose the occupation. People are now simply (and understandably) grateful for the absence of pain. A friend of mine from Bethlehem, a city severed by the separation wall, told me how ‘calm’ it is now because ‘we rarely see Israeli soldiers inside the city anymore.’ Under such confinement, any small breakthrough is a success of sorts: one morning I found myself elated by the lack of traffic at the Kalandia checkpoint, which meant I got where I was going in half the time it usually took me.

Given the steady contraction of Palestinian life, the most recent round of US-led negotiations was not about the resolution of conflict but about the degree of loss that can be inflicted on the Palestinians by the US and Israel. The Palestinian ‘state’ is now – and will remain for the foreseeable future – a US-Israeli initiative not a Palestinian one.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.


  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • andymartinink on Reacher v. Parker: Slayground definitely next on my agenda. But to be fair to Lee Child, as per the Forbes analysis, there is clearly a massive collective reader-writer ...
    • Robert Hanks on Reacher v. Parker: And in Breakout, Parker, in prison, teams up with a black guy to escape; another white con dislikes it but accepts the necessity; Parker is absolutely...
    • Robert Hanks on Reacher v. Parker: Parker may not have the integrity and honesty of Marlowe, but I'd argue that Richard Stark writes with far more of both than Raymond Chandler does: Ch...
    • Christopher Tayler on Reacher v. Parker: Good to see someone holding up standards. The explanation is that I had thoughts - or words - left over from writing about Lee Child. (For Chandler se...
    • Geoff Roberts on Reacher v. Parker: ..."praised in the London Review of Books" Just read the article on Lee Child in a certain literary review and was surprised to find this rave notice...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Chris Lehmann: The Candidates
    18 June 2015

    ‘Every one of the Republican candidates can be described as a full-blown adult failure. These are people who, in most cases, have been granted virtually every imaginable advantage on the road to success, and managed nevertheless to foul things up along the way.’

    Hugh Pennington:
    The Problem with Biodiversity
    10 May 2007

    ‘As a medical microbiologist, for example, I have spent my career fighting biodiversity: my ultimate aim has been to cause the extinction of harmful microbes, an objective shared by veterinary and plant pathologists. But despite more than a hundred years of concentrated effort, supported by solid science, smallpox has been the only success.’

    Jeremy Harding: At the Mexican Border
    20 October 2011

    ‘The battle against illegal migration is a domestic version of America’s interventions overseas, with many of the same trappings: big manpower commitments, militarisation, pursuit, detection, rendition, loss of life. The Mexican border was already the focus of attention before 9/11; it is now a fixation that shows no signs of abating.’

    James Meek: When the Floods Came
    31 July 2008

    ‘Last July, a few days after the floods arrived, with 350,000 people still cut off from the first necessity of life, Severn Trent held its annual general meeting. It announced profits of £325 million, and confirmed a dividend for shareholders of £143 million. Not long afterwards the company, with the consent of the water regulator Ofwat, announced that it wouldn’t be compensating customers: all would be charged as if they had had running water, even when they hadn’t.’

Advertisement Advertisement