If a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict ever came to pass, it would create a profound urban planning challenge

As part of TheAtlantic.com's and the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace's ongoing Is Peace Possible? special report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Karen Lee Bar-Sinai, Yehuda Greenfield-Gilat, and Chen Farkas, a trio of Israel-based architects involved with the group SAYA/Design for Change, have offered up a series of designs developed in collaboration with Palestinian planners that illustrate options for specialized border crossings in a potentially split Jerusalem. It's a fascinating case study of the challenges urban planners would face should a two-state solution ever come to pass.

The architects' preferred design for an entry/exit point on Road 60 (above), for example, the main north-south artery through Jerusalem that's used by both East and West Jerusalemites, calls for a pedestrian border crossing composed of two structures, east and west of the road, and connected by a bridge. They write:

The crossing would not only create a physical link between the two sides of the crossing, but also connects two main urban routes -- Derech Shechem/Salah Ad-Din in the east to Shmuel Hanavi/Shivtei Yisrael on the west. This proposal would create a centrally located, flexible crossing that maintains security but enables economic and social links between the two sides.

Creating a border though Jerusalem that connects the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem to West Jerusalem would require roads and corridors that cut through Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. But designing border crossings that are sensitive to the city and its routines, including crossing structures and procedures that allow varying degrees of permeability, can allow for the formation of two viable capitols, with effective separation and connection between them. Jerusalem can transform from a city bound by its fabricated unity to a city liberated by well thought-out separation.

As the authors themselves point out, Jerusalem of course already operates very much like two separate cities, but the issue they're attempting to solve here is that a more formal, built border, a concept which many Israeli security experts are now behind, would require a fair amount of "salamandering," or long extensions of Israeli territory that would connect the few Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem to the rest of the Israeli part of the city. Such meandering borders would create odd disruptions in the design and flow of a new Palestinian capitol, a scenario a city planner virtually anywhere else would want to avoid.

Check out more of Bar-Sinai, Greenfield-Gilat, and Farkas's designs here, and the rest of the Is Peace Possible? series here.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo of a Google employee on a bicycle.
    Equity

    How Far Will Google’s Billion-Dollar Bay Area Housing Plan Go?

    The single largest commitment by a private employer to address the Bay Area’s acute affordable housing crisis is unique in its focus on land redevelopment.

  2. A person tapes an eviction notice to the door of an apartment.
    Equity

    Why Landlords File for Eviction (Hint: It’s Usually Not to Evict)

    Most of the time, a new study finds, landlords file for eviction because it tilts the power dynamic in their favor—not because they want to eject their tenants.

  3. Equity

    Berlin Will Freeze Rents for Five Years

    Local lawmakers agreed to one of Europe’s most radical rental laws, but it sets the stage for a battle with Germany’s national government.

  4. A map showing the affordability of housing in the U.S.
    Equity

    Minimum Wage Still Can’t Pay For A Two-Bedroom Apartment Anywhere

    The 30th anniversary edition of the National Low Income Housing Coalition report, “Out of Reach,” shows that housing affordability is getting worse, not better.

  5. photo of Arizona governor Doug Ducey
    Perspective

    Why FOMO Is the Enemy of Good Urban Mobility Policy

    Fear of Missing Out does not make good transportation policy. Sometimes a new bus shelter is a better investment than flashy new technology.

×