Yael Berda: “Closure, Restrictions on Mobility, and the Permit Regime are the Scaffolding of the Occupation”


Jerusalem Story

Closure is a little-understood Israeli legal system that places an entire people—Palestinians holding Palestinian Authority IDs—on permanent lockdown in the occupied territories and removes their freedom to move from place to place while exempting another people—Israeli Jews, who live within the same geographic territory—from such restrictions. Closure, first put into effect in 1991 and tightened by many magnitudes in the three decades since, has spawned a massive bureaucracy that governs and controls just about every move Palestinians with these IDs might want to make.

We sat down with Israeli sociologist and human rights lawyer Yael Berda, who has both worked within the system, trying to help many Palestinian clients try to gain some measure of relief, and studied it in depth. Her book Living Emergency: Israel’s Permit Regime in the Occupied West Bank (Stanford University Press, 2017) was perhaps the first to deconstruct this labyrinthine system and expose its very dark side.