BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights releases working paper No. 23, Forced Population Transfer: The Case of Palestine - Segregation, Fragmentation and Isolation. Israel’s practices of segregation, fragmentation and isolation are more nuanced and subtle than more traditional policies and mechanisms of forcible transfer. In its intangible form, this “transfer” does not imply a direct removal of people from their lands. In its tangible form, this is a policy that seeks the creation of a coercive environment that alienates the people from each other and their land, thereby compelling them to seek a better future elsewhere, and overshadowing the fact that their displacement is actually unintentional and compelled.
The newest paper in the series demonstrates how the use of these apartheid practices of segregation, fragmentation, and isolation is not an end in and of itself, but is rather a mechanism designed to eliminate the Palestinian people by undermining their identity, cohesion and collectivity. Through this, Israel seeks to make the Palestinian right to self-determination an unrealizable, illusory right and to, simultaneously, contrive a purported Israeli-Jewish right to self-determination that is somehow exceptional, legitimate and applicable to the whole of Mandatory Palestine.
The working paper begins with an examination of the right of self-determination, and the definitions of segregation, fragmentation and isolation under international law. Then, it highlights how these apartheid practices in Palestine, chip away this right by undermining both the essence and substance of the two pre-requisites to the right of self-determination: the people and the land. Specifically, the paper takes the use of transportation systems and infrastructure as a hitherto understudied example of this phenomenon. On the one hand, Israel utilizes the de-development and obstruction of Palestinian transportation systems and infrastructure to achieve a situation where the unity and connectivity of the Palestinian people to each other and to their land has been compromised. On the other hand, these same systems and infrastructures have been superiorly established, developed and enhanced for Israeli-Jewish colonial unity, connectivity and domination.
To point out how the use of segregation, fragmentation and isolation have been impacting the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination, the paper offers two case studies, one on each side of the Green Line: Umm al-Fahm and Bethlehem. The cases studies provide a detailed analysis of the means and tactics used by Israel, within the transportation systems and infrastructure, to intentionally and systematically create and establish a situation of overall de-development, de-politicization, and social, cultural and economic fracturing of the Palestinian people.
Because these apartheid practices undermine the Palestinian people’s enjoyment of their substantial rights, as well as their collective cohesion, they gradually deprive them from their ability to enjoy their legitimate right to self-determination. It should be noted that since its creation, Israel has not only has been denying the Palestinian people their right to self-determination, but has also advanced its approach aiming to reduce the international community’s support and perception of this right.
Download a pdf version of this working paper.
About the series:
This Series of Working Papers on forced population transfer is intended to encourage debate, and to stimulate discussion and critical comment. Together, and drawing upon desk and field-based research, these papers will identify and explore the key components of Israel’s policies and mechanisms of forcible transfer of the Palestinian population. Specifically, BADIL has identified the following components:
- Denial of Residency
- Discriminatory Zoning and Planning
- Installment of a Permit Regime
- Suppression of Resistance
- Denial of Access to Natural Resources and Services
- Land Confiscation and Denial of Use
- Denial of Reparations (return/repatriation, property restitution, compensation and non-repetition of violations)
- Segregation, Fragmentation and Isolation
- Non-state actions (with the implicit consent of the Israeli state).