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<nettime> A Theory of Verticality: Eyal Weizman's architecture of Occupa
Paul D. Miller on Wed, 31 May 2006 12:47:22 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> A Theory of Verticality: Eyal Weizman's architecture of Occupation

This is part of a series of articles Eyal Weizman has published.
This is with Opendemocracy.org the new urbanism, and its. This is 
something that no wall can contain.

I enjoy Eyal's work because it indexes the kind of power
structures that are being imposed on the Palestinian lands with a
dynamic understanding of how these control mechanisms mesh with
architecture. The other articles Ayal has written were compiled
in a book entitled: A Civil Occupation: The Politics of Israeli
Architecture with Rafi Segal

as the intro at
&articleId=801 goes:

Weizman introduces the experience of territory in the West
Bank, which explodes simple political boundaries and "crashes
three-dimensional space into six dimensions -- three Jewish and
three Arab".

Since the 1967 war, when Israel occupied the West Bank and the
Gaza strip, a colossal project of strategic, territorial and
architectural planning has lain at the heart of the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict.

The landscape and the built environment became the arena of
conflict. Jewish settlements -- state-sponsored islands of
'territorial and personal democracy', manifestations of the
Zionist pioneering ethos -- were placed on hilltops overlooking
the dense and rapidly changing fabric of the Palestinian
cities and villages. 'First' and 'Third' Worlds spread out in
a fragmented patchwork: a territorial ecosystem of externally
alienated, internally homogenised enclaves located next to,
within, above or below each other.

A new understanding of territory had to be developed to govern
the West Bank. The Occupied Territories were no longer seen as a
two-dimensional surface, but as a large threedimensional volume,
layered with strategic, religious and political strata.

New and intricate frontiers were invented, like the temporary
borders later drawn up in the Oslo Interim Accord, under which
the Palestinian Authority was given control over isolated
territorial 'islands', but Israel retained control over the
airspace above them and the sub-terrain beneath.

This process might be described as the 'politics of verticality'.
It began as a set of ideas, policies, projects and regulations
proposed by Israeli state-technocrats, generals, archaeologists,
planners and road engineers since the occupation of the West
Bank, severing the territory into different, discontinuous

The writer Meron Benvenisti described the process as crashing
"three-dimensional space into six dimensions -- three Jewish and
three Arab". Former US president Bill Clinton sincerely believed
in a vertical solution to the problem of partitioning the Temple
Mount. Settlement Masterplanners like Matityahu Drobless aimed to
generate control from high points.

Ron Pundak, the architect of the Oslo Accords, described
solutions for partitioning the West Bank with a three-dimensional
matrix of roads and tunnels, still on the drawing board, as the
only practical way to divide an undividable territory. And Gilead
Sher, Israeli chief negotiator at Camp David (and a divorce
lawyer) explained it to me as a way of enlarging the 'cake'
before partitioning it.

Over a week, openDemocracy posted Eyal Weizman's extraordinary
series of articles and photo-essays, which fills out this picture
of three-dimensional conflict in devastating detail. These ideas
are extracted from a book he is writing. They offer us a fresh
way of understanding the West Bank in words and pictures.

In the course of the articles, Weizman takes us on a journey
which starts with the hills and valleys of the West Bank
landscape. Reflecting on the significance mountains and valleys
have historically for the Jewish people, he focuses on the recent
mountaintop settlements.

Next he takes us underground to examine the politics of water
and sewage in this contested territory, and the way archaeology
is being pressed into the service of the present (episodes 5
and 6). He then lays out the special case of Jerusalem and the
ongoing battle for its past, above and below ground (episode 9),
before going on to explore the astonishing infrastructure of
bypass roads that weave above and below each other and attempt to
separate the two communities (episode 10).

In his chilling final episode he turns our attention to the way
the Israelis have established control over individual Palestinian
lives, by militarising the airspace over the West Bank.

The series will climax in May with Weizman's definitive new map
of the West Bank patchwork, showing how Israeli and Palestinian
settlements encircle one another. Prepared for the human rights
organization B'tselem, and updating American intelligence maps,
it will be an indispensable aid to understanding the intimacy of
this conflict.

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