The community settlements create cul-de-sac envelopes, closed off to their surroundings, promoting a mythic communal coherence in a shared formal identity. It is a claustrophobic layout, expressing a social vision that facilitates the intimate management of the lives of the inhabitants.

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Optical Urbanism

High ground offers three strategic assets: greater tactical strength, self-protection, and a wider view. This principle is as long as military history itself. The Crusaders’ castles, some built not far from the location of today’s settlements, operated through ‘the reinforcement of strength already provided by nature’. These series of mountaintop fortresses were military instruments for the territorial domination of the Latin kingdom.

The Jewish settlements in the West Bank are not very different. Not only places of residence, they create a large-scale network of ‘civilian fortification’ which is part of the army’s regional plan of defence, generating tactical territorial surveillance. A simple act of domesticity, a single family home shrouded in the cosmetic facade of red tiles and green lawns, conforms to the aims of territorial control.


The Israeli settlements in the West Bank are dormitory suburbs, reliant on roads connecting them with the urban centres of Israel proper. So-called ‘bypass’ roads were a feature of the Oslo accord. The Israeli government was allowed (with specially allocated American money) to construct a network of fast, wide security roads that bypass Arab towns and connect the settlements to Israel.


The bypass roads, some still in the process of paving, would become a massive system of twenty-nine highways spanning four hundred and fifty kilometres. They allow four hundred thousand Jews living in land occupied in 1967 to have freedom of movement. About three million Palestinians are left locked into isolated enclaves.

The term bypass roads came with the advent of the Oslo Accords and were not present before. These roads are used by the Israelis to link settlements with each other and with Israel. In the agreements they are called "Lateral Roads" but people usually call them "bypass" roads because they are meant to circumvent (i.e. bypass) Palestinian built up areas. These roads are of course under Israeli control and entail a 50 to 75 meter buffer zone on each side of the road in which no construction is allowed.

The myth of the "generous offer" consisted of four enclaves, bisected by illegally built colonial settlements and bypass roads for Jews only that would have prevented the Palestinians from ever establishing a viable, independent and contiguous state in any area between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea.

In addition, the geographic placement of settlements, the prohibition of Palestinian development on adjacent lands (ostensibly for security reasons), and the construction of bypass roads linking settlements to one another and to Israel have placed severe burdens on Palestinians' freedom of movement - dividing the West Bank into isolated cantons - and have stifled the natural development of Palestinian towns and villages.

To take Gaza first, detailed maps of the Strip often published in Israeli papers show how it is criss- crossed by "military roads" which, according to the Cairo Agreement, remain under Israeli jurisdiction. These roads are patrolled by the Israeli army, either separately or jointly with the Palestinian police. The Israeli army has the legal right to close any section of such roads to all Palestinian traffic, even within the autonomy, and it uses this right when a convoy to a settlement is using the roads.


. The second rationale used by the Israeli government was that the roads were necessary for the security of the illegal Jewish settlers. The bypass roads enable the settlers to travel within the West Bank and to Israel without passing through any areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority, as the roads are built in Area C, the 73% of the West Bank which is still under full Israeli military occupation.

Special bypass roads cut through West Bank hills and Gazan sand dunes, so settlers - many of them immigrants from the United States or Russia - can avoid driving through or near Palestinian villages and cities.