On settler colonialism’s contemporary spatial strategies: Omar Jabary Salamanca, ‘When settler colonialism becomes “development”: ‘fabric of life’ roads and the spatialities of development in the Palestinian West Bank’, Center for Development Studies, Birzeit University, 2015
Excerpt: Three years ago the weekly magazine The Nation published an investigative piece by Nadia Hijab and Jesse Rosenfeld titled “Palestinian roads: Cementing Statehood, or Israeli annexation?” (2010) The text underscored the political nature of major road development projects in the West Bank. More specifically, the authors raised questions about the role that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) play in supporting the construction of a Palestinian road network that accommodates and facilitates Israel’s colonial policies. These USAID funded roads, the article argued, are part of an Israeli plan presented to and rejected by the donor community and the PA in 2004. In deed, following diplomatic pressures to relax the tight closure imposed on Palestinians after the second Intifada, the Government of Israel (GOI) sought funding from donors to build 500 km of what they branded as ‘fabric of life’ roads. That is, the GOI, in attempt to rebuild the indigenous ‘fabric of life’, proposed a separate Palestinian road network to sustain and consolidate rather than dismantle an entrenched closure regime consisting of physical infrastructure –such as checkpoints, road restrictions, checkpoints and the wall— and draconian mobility regulations –such as the permit system that impinges upon the Palestinian freedom of movement.
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