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Political mobilization in a deeply polarized city. The case of the Jerusalem metropolitan area

Marco Allegra
Università degli Studi di Torino
Marco Allegra
Università degli Studi di Torino
Open Panel

Abstract

The paper deals with contentious politics in the metropolitan area of Jerusalem, and in particular with protest mobilization by the network of pro-Palestinian organizations and political movements. Without delving into the heated debate about the democratic nature of Israel, the paper focuses on the asymmetries at the micro scale of urban politics. In the Jerusalem area the Palestinian community in Jerusalem enjoys only limited political rights. Israel never tried to integrate the local Palestinian population in the urban social and political fabric, and progressively abandoned the strategy of limited co-optation of the local Palestinian leadership to develop a more marked antagonism toward any form of political mobilization in the Palestinian community, establishing a tight control system in the metropolitan area. This condition created a wide gap between the local Jewish and the Palestinian communities in every domain, placing substantial and sometimes draconian limitations upon the opportunities for Palestinian political mobilization. Still, a wide and diverse network of pro-Palestinian activists operates in the metropolitan area addressing a number of political issues of local and national significance. The paper investigates pro-Palestinian political mobilization in the field of territorial policy (the expansion of Jewish settlements, house demolitions, infrastructures, freedom of movement, etc.), combining the collection of historical and contextual data with about forty in-depth interviews (to civil servants, politicians, activists and academics) and addressing the following questions: - how and to what extent do the lack of full citizenship rights and the antagonistic Israeli policies limit the opportunities of pro-Palestinian political mobilization? - to what extent protest in the city is able to challenge the legitimacy of Israeli control over the city? - what kind of effects the effectiveness of political mobilization in Jerusalem has on the local political environment and the balance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general?