Cities in the 21st Century


In August 2009, the United States called for a freeze on Israeli settlements in order to promote peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Israel agreed to the settlement freeze yet less than three weeks later approved a plan by the Israel Land Administration and the Jerusalem Planning Committee to build an additional 900 houses in the town of Gilo. While much of the international community understands Gilo to be an illegal settlement built on occupied territory, Israel disputes this claim and views Gilo as a legal suburb of Jerusalem. Though many states, international organizations, and human rights groups protested Gilo’s expansion at the time of announcement, development continued nonetheless. A great deal of media and other forms of propaganda projects were issued from a multiplicity of perspectives in an attempt to sway the world towards certain political positions on Gilo’s expansion. In order to do this, various parties worked to influence the way that the public imagined or perceived settlement expansion as legal or illegal, humane or inhumane. The Israeli growth coalition and Palestinian groups manipulated the geographic imagination to legitimize or delegitimize claims for land. This idea will be explored through the case study of Gilo to demonstrate how competing actors employ history, race, nationalism, and rhetoric to stake claims to land.