Environmental Infrastructures and (De-)Development in the West Bank

Authors: Sara Salazar Hughes*, CSU Monterey Bay
Topics: Political Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Sustainability Science
Keywords: infrastructure, sustainable development, Israel/Palestine, settler colonialism
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 30
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In recent decades Israel has positioned itself as a leader in “green” innovations and energy infrastructure, including solar. This is mirrored, though, not just by the underdevelopment of Palestinian energy infrastructures (among others), but by their active de-development at the hands of the Israeli military administrators of the occupied West Bank. Israel’s conflict infrastructures (checkpoints, the separation barrier, settlement blocs, segregated road networks) have long been understood to extend Israeli de facto sovereignty throughout the occupied territories, but green infrastructures and developments seem less overtly geopolitical and are being marketed globally. Afterall, green technologies are ostensibly aimed at sustainable resource management and climate change mitigation—global necessities and public goods. I argue that the infrastructural asymmetries between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank should be seen as part and parcel of Israel’s broader conflict infrastructure (aimed at Israeli sovereignty and Palestinian dispossession), as tools of Israeli development of the West Bank in the interest of Israelis (and in violation of international law), and as active efforts to de-develop Palestinian infrastructures in that same landscape (in other words, Palestinian de-development is not a side effect, but central to the development of these infrastructures). Therefore, these are not just “green” infrastructural developments, but are geopolitical weapons of control, appropriation, and dispossession which cannot be abstracted from the geopolitical context in which they are created.

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