Accepted paper:

In the shadow of two states: rural electrification in the occupied West Bank

Authors:

Dan Rabinowitz (Tel Aviv University and CEU)

Paper short abstract:

The paper reviews a recent drive to provide semi-nomadic Palestinian peasants and Bedouin living in the arid hills east of Hebron with solar panels and wind turbine for power generation. Funded by international donations, led by Israeli peace activists and implemented with active participation of members of the community itself, the initiative has so far installed domestic generation systems in more than 200 households. The history of the project, its current state and future projection reflect the promises and pitfalls typical of rural electrification projects globally. The particular complexities of running such a project under occupation affords a glimpse into the contradictions, existential issues and counter-intuitive alliances associated with the occupation.

Paper long abstract:

The infrastructural disparity between the Western part of Israel/Palestine and the arid belt on the eastern margin of the land condemned Palestinian semi-nomadic and transhumant population in the east to isolation and impoverishment. Consistently harassed by Israel, which sees their presence as a threat to its sovereignty in the occupied territories and a potential obstacle for future Jewish settlement, such communities were soon marginalized by the Palestinian proto-state as well. Lying beyond the reaches of the limited financial and infrastructure capabilities of the Palestinian Authority, their efforts to maintain traditional economic activity and cultural continuity now face major difficulties. The paper reviews a recent drive to provide hamlets in Masfarat Yata (the desert area south and east of Hebron) with solar panels and wind turbine for power generation. Funded by international donations, led by Israeli peace activists and implemented with active participation of members of the community itself employed by the project, the initiative so far installed small scale renewable energy systems in more than 200 households. Its history, current state and future projection reflect the promises and pitfalls typical of rural electrification projects globally. The complexities of running such a project under occupation provide a prism to the contradictions, existential issues and counter-intuitive alliances engendered by the interface between the Israeli occupation and the survival needs of Palestinians.

panel W050
Uncertain futures: the cultural dynamics of energy transition