The following is an excerpt from Noura Erakat’s new book Justice For Some: Law and the Question of Palestine.
By Noura Erakat | Mondoweiss | Jul 3, 2019
Having torpedoed the possibility of a Palestinian state, Israel is now the sole source of authority from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Jordan.
In 2018, the prospect of a sovereign and independent Palestinian state is obsolete. As of late 2015, the Israeli settler population in the West Bank numbered more than 600,000, a 200 percent increase since the advent of the Oslo peace process in 1993. Israel’s settlement enterprise carves the West Bank into more than twenty noncontiguous landmasses separating approximately three million Palestinians into as many groups that stand apart from one another, thus undermining any sense of territorial contiguity or national cohesion. In 2000, Israel began constructing a separation barrier, or wall, allegedly to halt the flow of Palestinian suicide bombers within Israel’s undeclared borders. By the time of the wall’s completion in 2020, 85 percent of its length will run through the West Bank and effectively confiscate 13 percent of that territory, conveniently where most of Israel’s largest settlement blocs are located. Israeli military law prohibits the presence and travel of Palestinians between the West Bank and Gaza, thereby entrenching their political and geographic fragmentation. In Gaza, Israel has securitized nearly two million Palestinians and held them captive under a land siege and naval blockade for more than a decade. Palestinians cannot freely travel to East Jerusalem, and that area’s 300,000 Palestinians are subject to an aggressive removal campaign. In the years since 1948, nearly two thirds of the Palestinian population has been driven into a global diaspora, including fifty-eight refugee camps in the Arab world, and is being denied the right to return. Having torpedoed the possibility of a Palestinian state, Israel is now the sole source of authority from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Jordan.
Legal work has been central to Israel’s expansionist project. The Israeli judiciary, diplomatic corps, and civil and military legal advisers have understood the law’s imbrication with politics and have leveraged the state’s diplomatic, military, and economic prowess to perform legal work in pursuit of its political ambitions.