Land policy in the Jewish yishuv in Palestine (1880-1948) and in the Israeli state has been tied to “enclaving” settlement process in various forms and phases for much of the past century. Since the June 1967 war, a corollary form of “exclaving” settlement was initiated in occupied territories. For some, these settlements were seen as political bargaining chips. By other, especially religious fundamentalists, they were regarded as a proactive part of the continuing process of “redemption of the land” in the sense of “the whole of the Land of Israel” (Eretz Yisrael ha-shelma). The “generous” peace offer of the Barak government was basically grounded on: (a) incorporation of most “exclaves” into the main territorial space, and thus their “de-exclavization” into contiguous blocks; (b) the concomitant “enclavization” of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza within their own space, where they remain the majoritarian population. To “enclavize” these areas is to assure their basic spatial, economic and transportational fragmentation, turning them into a kind of analogue to Palestinian Galilee, where Israeli land policy has proved relatively successful in enclaving a Palestinian population that is nearly majoritarian in the region.
Such enclaved entities, granted relative autonomy yet in reality controlled politically, economically and of course militarily by the enveloping powerful state, bear some similarity to the bantustans created by nationalist white governments in South Africa from the 1960s.
Palestinians must seek to unmask these tactics and show how such bantustanization and a Palestinian state as a “cluster of enclaves” is not in the ultimate interest of any of the parties to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The Israeli public must come to understand that its “exclaves” are the greatest stumbling block to a viable peace. The first constructive step is not their “incorporation” into a contiguous band with the territory inside the Green Line (1967 borders) but their systematic and speedy dismantling. It is not too late for the Israeli government and public to recognize the folly of its exclaving land policies beyond the Green line over the past 35 years, and the inequity of those policies within the Green Line since the state foundation and during the pre-state period. One cannot turn back the clock, but one can redress past errors as consciousness changes.