This article examines how social preferences, in the form of cultural politics, become concretised in land laws. In Israel, Bedouin Arabs in unrecognised villages and Jewish farmers of individual farmsteads each faced governmental eviction orders and responded by seeking recognition of their land-use practices as legal. However, whereas Jewish farmers successfully mobilised place-based identities to gain legalisation, Bedouin Arabs’ dwelling practices were not recognised as the legitimate basis for land claims, and their attempts to assert place-based identities have been denied. Instead, Bedouin Arabs faced pressures of ‘de-cultural accommodation’ and continued evictions. Ethnographic comparison of these two cases of ‘illegal’ settlement demonstrates how cultural identities – as former nomads or pioneer farmers – matter for land claims.
Haklai, Oded. “The Decisive Path of State Indecisiveness: Israeli Settlers in the West Bank in Comparative Perspective.” In Settlers in Contested Lands. Territorial Disputes and Ethnic Conflicts (ed. Oded Haklai & Neophytos Loizides; Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014): 17-39.
Many analysts identify Israeli settlements in the territories Israel conquered in the 1967 war as one of the key issues that needs to be resolved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The significance of settlers in the context of this conflict derives from the conventional perception that partition of the territory into two sovereign states is the preferred and most feasible conflict resolution mechanism. More generally, partition solutions to ethnonational conflict rely on the assumption that the intensity of hostilities between the warring ethnic groups makes it impossible for them to live peacefully together in a single state. The underpinning, usually implicit, premise is that ethnic sorting is required for such conflict management; Israeli settlements in the territories designated for a Palestinian stat are seen as an impediment in this quest.