Edited by Ariel Handel, Marco Allegra, and Erez Maggor, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, pp. 244
Much controversy surrounds Israel’s settlement project in the occupied West Bank, and the extremist national and religious agendas at play there have come to define these territories in the minds of most scholars and political commentators. This deeply entrenched framework, however, fails to account for the prevailing pattern of settlement development and the steady growth of the settler population. In contrast to the common emphasis of religious ideology and messianic faith, this collection of essays considers an array of conventionally downplayed historical and structural factors that place the origins and everyday reality of the settlements into a wider perspective, recounting their proliferation as a process of ‘normalization’ – i.e. their ongoing incorporation into Israel’s social, economic and legal fabric.
The collected works consider the transformation of the landscape, the patterns of relationships between the region’s residents, Palestinian and Jewish alike, and the lasting effects of Israel’s settlement policy. They stress, in particular, how factors such as urban and regional planning, rising inequality and the retreat of the welfare state within Israel proper, and the changing political economy of industry and employment in the region, have all played a crucial, yet underappreciated role in determining the ongoing expansion and resilience of Israel’s settlement project. In doing so, the collection provides new insights into the integration and segregation processes that are an integral part of the broader historical trends shaping Israel/Palestine.