Old and new walls in Jerusalem

Menachem Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The concept of Jerusalem as an open city negates the existence of any deep division in Jerusalem. Following theoretical discussion on boundaries formation, walls and their links to national identity and power relations, the article shows that while Israel argued since 1967 that the city is open, it created different kinds of walls that divide Jerusalem into its Palestinian East and its Israeli West. Thick ethnic-national, political, community, religious, historical, and cultural walls separate the Jewish from the Arab side of the city. Similarly, the domain of residence, building and land ownership is full of walls. The common labor market and the space in which the residents of East and West Jerusalem interact constitute another kind of wall. This wall, while built on the foundation of primordial identity, is activated in instrumental areas of mutual dependency: the labor market, the provision of services to the Jewish majority, and the health system. Due to the multiplicity of walls in Jerusalem as well as the activation of various kinds of passage regimes and control, the relations between Israelis and Palestinians in the city were more varied than in other parts of the West Bank. This situation is changing since the beginning of the 1990s from permeable walls to an Israeli gate-keeping and limited crossing policy. In 2002, Israel began to build a system of physical separation between East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Once implemented, it will constitute the most dramatic change effected by Israel in East Jerusalem since 1967. Over and above extending the area annexed, Israel wants to destroy Arab metropolitan Jerusalem in an attempt to achieve by means of destructive walls which will envelop the Palestinian neighborhoods what it was unable to achieve since 1967.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-76
Number of pages24
JournalPolitical Geography
Issue number1 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Jan 2005


  • Division
  • Jerusalem
  • Urban politics


Dive into the research topics of 'Old and new walls in Jerusalem'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this