Infrastructural Governance of Jerusalem Light Rail I: Urban Segregation

Constructed from 2002 to 2010, the Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR) is a tram system operated by Israeli authorities. The Red Line as the first several light rails planed in Jerusalem is 13.8km long with twenty-three stops connecting the neighbourhood of Pisgat Ze’ev, in the city’s north, to the south Mount Herzl by way of the city centre in less than one hour. It is officially served for Israeli citizens and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem alike equally to moderate traffic congestion and create a condition for a flourishing metropolis. In reality however, the presence of Palestinian is unacceptable rather than desired by both Israeli parties as well as Israeli passengers, leading to unequal accessibility to the most dominant public transport.

By improving the mobility of Israeli citizens, JLR as a political infrastructure fosters the territorial annexation and geopolitical entity of East Jerusalem (Amina Nolte, “Political Infrastructure and the Politics of Infrastructure.” City 20, no. 3 (July 1, 2016): 445). Besides, five out of twenty-three stops stands near the contested settlement of Israeli citizens in Palestinian territory and in other words disconnects Palestinian neighbourhoods, territorializing the Israeli region and de-territorializing Palestinian by means of including and excluding.

“Infrastructures that are built to connect thereby actually disconnect those non-central spaces that lie in between. This in-between-ness as a pertinent situation for many city inhabitants is politically produced.” (Amina Nolte, “Political Infrastructure and the Politics of Infrastructure.” City 20, no. 3 (July 1, 2016): 446).

Except for the spatial segregation of Palestinian Neighbourhoods, the urban segregation of Palestinian involves the accessibility of social engagement as well. As JLR stimulates the mobility flows and public transport connections of the Israeli population and excluded Palestinian citizens in planning, the accessibility of different sources varies among different ethnic groups. Comparing to Israeli citizens, Palestinian are easily left out of multiple educational, working and other social beneficial opportunities. “[I]t has long been recognized that mobility or mobilities are both generating and an outcome of inequalities and exclusion” (Mei-Po Kwan, and Schwanen Tim, “Geographies of Mobility.” Annals of the American Association of Geographers 106, no. 2 (January 29, 2016): 249).

While it is uneasy for Palestinian to reaching out of their neighbourhoods, different resources are also challenging to enter Palestinian neighbourhoods. Palestinian group was excluded at the beginning of Jerusalem urban planning, causing uneven development among two national groups.
“Urban segregation is simultaneously a political, social, economic, ethnic and racial artefact of an individual’s mobility in the city.” (Jonathan Rokem, and Vaughan Laura. “Segregation, Mobility and Encounters in Jerusalem: The Role of Public Transport Infrastructure in Connecting the ‘Divided City.’” Urban Studies 55, no. 15 (February 1, 2017): 3460). Immobility, or being trapped within its society, leads to one of the spacial and social factors for urban segregation. JLR, as a political tool for the Israeli government to fulfil the “unification of Jerusalem”, is a materialised governance processing the power to include and exclude, to territorialize and de-territorialize (Stefan Höhne. “An Endless Flow of Machines to Serve the City: Infrastructural Assemblages and the Quest for the Metropolis.” Thick Space, 2012, 152). Israeli government’s planning as a tool fostered the land occupation and created its own national space by urban segregation and containment of ethnic minority (Nolte, “Political Infrastructure,” 445).

 

 

References
Höhne, Stefan. “An Endless Flow of Machines to Serve the City: Infrastructural Assemblages and the Quest for the Metropolis.” Thick Space, 2012, 141–64. https://doi.org/10.14361/transcript.9783839420430.141.

Kwan, Mei-Po, and Tim Schwanen. “Geographies of Mobility.” Annals of the American Association of Geographers 106, no. 2 (January 29, 2016): 243–56. https://doi.org/10.1080/24694452.2015.1123067.

Nolte, Amina. “Political Infrastructure and the Politics of Infrastructure.” City 20, no. 3 (July 1, 2016): 441–54. https://doi.org/10.1080/13604813.2016.1169778.

Rokem, Jonathan, and Laura Vaughan. “Segregation, Mobility and Encounters in Jerusalem: The Role of Public Transport Infrastructure in Connecting the ‘Divided City.’” Urban Studies 55, no. 15 (February 1, 2017): 3454–73. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098017691465.

1 Comment on “Infrastructural Governance of Jerusalem Light Rail I: Urban Segregation

  1. Its interesting to see how the transportation was turn into a segregation tool by controlling the flow of people from a certain nodes. While it is the government intention to control the flow of people, local community and business might be affected as a result.

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