Planning Palestine

Suisman Urban Design was hired to design a theoretical Palestinian State, in the hopes that the plan might encourage the peace process. The plan was released in 2005, and has been gaining traction and admiration ever since.

"By raising typical planning concerns in a dispassionate way and placing the needs of a future Palestine at the center of discussion, it offers an object of hope to all who have sought peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The plan envisions construction of an infrastructural "arc" linking the major cities of the two territories and providing connection to an international airport and seaport. Consisting of a high-speed trunk rail line, water, electricity and telecommunications lines, the arc would follow the high ground in the West Bank before sweeping through the Israeli Negev to Gaza. Perpendicular to it would be subsidiary collecting infrastructures allowing development of linear urban areas."

The full story is available in the printed version of the PLACES Journal.

Full Story: The Arc: A Formal Structure for a Palestinian State



Planning for Palestine

I never quite understood the whole thing about high speed rail. Like how I've had a tough time grasping the need for native plants instead of the invasive species that grow "naturally."

I'm sure that high-speed rail and native vegetation are good things, but they seem to fall on the high-end, difficult to do side of the spectrum. A little like fussing around while Rome burns.

So although I confess to being on shaky ground, I propose that the Palestine plan for high speed rail sounds a bit out of step with the enormous poverty and humble circumstances of most Palestinians. I propose instead a plan that ensures a basic state of affairs focused on such matters as land for farming and a complex of communication corridors that get around Israeli settlements (assuming that these might be impossible to undo -- I hope I'm wrong -- in he foreseeable future).

Mine may simply be a pandering and supine stance, but I favor picking the low-lying fruit, while addressing Israeli concerns for near-absolute assurances of security. This may involve separating walls and international monitors, and enormous effort to see that good Palestinian governance prevails, especially, that every Palestinian has the basic needs for health-care, shelter, food, communications, economic activity, etc.

A key element for a successful Palestine might also be an intensive program to break down cultural barriers between itself and Israel, leading in time to the erasure of physical barriers. One important means toward this is, rather than viewing Palestine in isolation, to focus heavily on the ecological relationship between the neighboring (Israeli/Palestinian) territories

Focus for now on making the Israelis feel secure (including being most sensitive about where and how returning refugees are settled in Palestine) and providing for the Palestinians their basic needs. Then maybe it will be time to consider high-speed rails.

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