Bridge Areas in Jerusalem

Elinoar Barzacchi

Ishai Spharim

March 1997



"When times get rough

And friends just can't be found...

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will ease your mind..."

(Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon and Garfunkel)

Bridge Areas in Jerusalem

Exploiting the Potential Inherent in the Differences between the Palestinians and the Israelis in Jerusalem to build a bridge between them

1 Introduction

1.1 Exploiting the latent potential of difference

Human beings react more to differences between states than to the states themselves. They react more to difference in temperature than to the actual level of temperature, and to the difference between light and dark more than to the light and dark themselves.

Difference can also become a source of strength: exploiting this fact is a common feature of many fields of life. Many systems in our body are exploiting differences in concentration to produce osmotic pressures. We exploit the potential inherent in differences of height to make water flow and to generate electricity, and we convert thermal differential into movement. Our imaginations have recently been captured by the 'desert chimney' projects, which exploits differences in humidity to create electricity in the desert.

In political and urban matters, the existence of a difference is often a source of envy and tension: in politics, economics and in society in general, the homogeneous is considered by many to be the ideal. We are jealous of the Japanese, with their homogeneous population (our only consolation being that the Japanese are "different" from us!), and we still envy France, Germany or Britain - countries which resemble ours more than Japan does and yet are still relatively homogeneous. None of us envy the ethnic variety of Yugoslavia or of the former USSR.

It is not always the case that differences mean trouble; even where human beings' systems are concerned, differences are sometimes exploited to create wealth. There are examples of social or economic differences existing between two neighbouring populations which operate as an engine of economic development to mutual advantage. In such places, workers flow from where they are in short supply (and wages low), to where work is abundant (and wages high); investment capital and technology flow the other way, and the finished products flow to where the market exists. Here are four examples:

A the joining of comparatively poor countries to the European common market: the membership of Spain (in the past) and of the Republic of Ireland (recently) of the market activated enormous economic forces both in the new member state and in the market itself, creating enviable focuses of economic growth.

B industrial cities on the Mexican side of the US border: in the border area between the US and Mexico, huge industrial cities exploit the differentials in wages and markets between the two countries as an economic force which acts to the benefit both of the Mexican labourer, and of the consumer on both sides.

C Hong Kong and Guangdong: the differing economies of Hong Kong and of the neighbouring Chinese province of Guangdong have resulted in economic prosperity on both sides.

D Singapore and Malaysiawhich ignited the Malaysian boom across the border.: Singapore acted as the spark

1.2 Differences between the Populations of Jerusalem

The city of Jerusalem is composed of three distinct populations, which, whilst living together, are distinguished by different economic, religious and cultural profiles. As a basis for this study we have integrated data from different sources regarding the various boroughs of the city. On the basis of this data, statistical analysis has been carried out in order to identify typical 'clusters' of boroughs, where the differences within each cluster will be smaller than the differences between clusters.

With the aid of the statistical analysis, based on data collected between 1983-1993, we have identified seven groups of boroughs in the city: one group of Palestinian boroughs, two groups of orthodox Jewish Israeli boroughs, and four groups of secular Israeli boroughs. The analysis shows that the Palestinian population lives in comparatively old housing stock at a high level of dwelling density (measured by number of persons per room). Amongst Palestinians, the proportion of graduates is low, the proportion of blue-collar workers is high, and the average level of income is relatively low. Out of the four variables which determine urban development potential - technical education, availability of capital, the availability of land (measured by the proportion of land to person), and the age profile of the population - we found that the Palestinian population has an advantage in the last two.

The orthodox Jewish Israeli population also lives in old buildings at high dwelling density; it has a higher proportion of graduates than the Palestinian population but lower than that of the secular Israeli population. The level of income of the orthodox Jewish Israeli population is higher than that of the Palestinians but lower than that amongst the secular Israelis. The average age of the orthodox Jewish Israeli group is relatively low, but the proportion of land to person not high.

The secular Israeli population enjoys the highest level of income, but the average age is high, and the proportion of land to person is low.

1.3 The Art of the Possible

1.3.1 Generalizations

* The division of a city of two populations into two territories: in a city which is home to two populations , it is not always possible to devise a border which will divide the two in a way which promises each one a continuous land mass, even where individual boroughs are themselves homogenous.

* A border can define a territory without necessarily acting as an impermeable barrier. For example, the borders between European states define territory but permit transit of nearly everything from one state from another.

* The 'Weakest Link': a border is only as strong as its weakest link, and therefore there cannot be variations in the permeability of a border along its length.

* Various Domains of Applicability of Rules and Services:

A rules applicable to borders: rules which determine the permeability of a border. These include rules which govern the types of object which can be carried across a border, and what taxes are payable for such movement. These 'objects' might include residents, commuters, goods or services; the taxes include customs and other levies.

B Rules and services applicable to area: these might be building regulations, local municipal taxes, and refuse collection.

C Rules and services applicable to persons: income tax, higher education, insurance; driving licence.

* Non-Divisibility: certain services have differing degrees of divisibility. We have already noted here that the degree of permeability of a border cannot vary along its length, and it is obvious that a traffic route cannot be divided. A varying degree of divisibility does however exist in many forms of industry and service. Examples include the generation of electricity, sewage treatment and refuse disposal. The cost of a non-divisible service rises very considerably below a certain level of activity.

* Specificality: rules and services specific to a certain population or certain area.

1.3.2 The Jerusalem Situation

1 Borders in Jerusalem can be:

a a border between Jerusalem and both Israel and the Palestinian Autonomy

b a border between Palestinians and Israelis who live in Jerusalem

c borders surrounding the boroughs within the city and the satellite

towns outside

d the borders of 'bridge areas'.

2 The border between Israel and the Palestinian Autonomy in the Jerusalem region: Jerusalem is located on the border between Israel and the Autonomy, and therefore, according to the 'Weakest Link' theory, the rules which govern the permeability of the border between Israel and the Autonomy within the city must be identical to those at any other place along this border. The border between Israel and the Autonomy can pass either through Jerusalem or around it. If it passes around it, the rules whichdetermine the degree of the permeability of the border between Palestinians and Israelis within Jerusalem can be different from those rules which determine the permeability of the border between Israel and the Autonomy - but this kind of border might strangle Jerusalem.

3 Bridge Areas: a bridge area will be established within the border which divides Palestinians from Israelis; these areas constitute a link in that border, and, according to the 'Weakest Link" theory, the degree of permeability provided by the borders of the bridge area must be equal to that provided by the border between the two peoples elsewhere in Jerusalem.

4 The bridge area borders: the degree of permeability provided by the borders of the bridge areas will by definition be very minimal; otherwise they will not be bridges. The bridge areas can therefore exist only in a situation in which the degree of permeability provided by the border between Palestinians and Israelis is itself high, and most of the objects referred to above can be transported across the borders.

2 The Puzzle

One can put together the puzzle which faces the planners for peace in Jerusalem by using the seven points below:

1 the political struggle, which has become particularly heated over the last two generations, has created a political tension liable to make good neighbourly relations difficult between residents drawn from the two peoples.

2 an economic difference exists between Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem. The Israelis are richer in capital, technical expertise and in the degree of access they enjoy to markets; the Palestinians are richer in manpower and in land resources.

3 Israelis and Palestinians meet one another every day at work, whilst shopping, and whilst using health services, and maintain proper labour, trade and service relations.

4 There are very few boroughs or satellite towns in and around Jerusalem which have a genuinely mixed population.

5 It is difficult to describe a single significant urban border which can divide the whole of the Israeli population from the Palestinian one across the city.

6 There are examples of boroughs which consist of one population type but are located along a traffic axis which links boroughs of other population types.

7 There are no man's land areas, either unpopulated or underpopulated, that exist between Israeli and Palestinian boroughs; these invite development but yet constitute a threat of conflict.




Most of the solutions proposed by politicians and / or planners in Jerusalem today use technical and physical means (fences, bridges and tunnels) for separation between the two peoples. Such solutions recall the judgement of Solomon: "let it be neither thine nor mine, but divide it"! Below we suggest a solution which can allow the child to grow to the mutual happiness of both mothers.

3 The Settlement on the Horizon

Various suggestions for a settlement in Jerusalem are being discussed. There is talk of a reduction in the overall area of the city, or of its extension to cover the whole of its metropolitan region; we hear about boroughs, about an overall city council, and about two separate city councils (one for the Palestinians and one for the Israelis); some even propose a third council for the ultra-orthodox. On the one hand there is talk about separation between Israel and the Palestinian Autonomy, and on the other - about Jerusalem as an undivided city. Some even claim that "a tall fence makes for good neighbours in every situation". The bridge areas that we propose do not fit into every one of these settlement ideas, and in this section we will identify the type of settlement into which bridge areas will fit.

A settlement for Jerusalem has to relate to the city's boroughs and to the satellite towns within its field of influence, to the borders of these boroughs and satellites, to the border between the populations, and to the permeability of this border. A settlement will also relate to an organizational set-up which would bring together these populations. The kind of settlement we are looking for will have the following features:

1 Jerusalem will be the central city within its metropolitan area, and will be itself a compact city, composed of a mosaic of Israeli and Palestinian boroughs.

2 The area that falls under the influence of the city of Jerusalem will include the existing and future mosaic of Palestinian and Israeli satellite towns which surround the city within the metropolitan area.

3 Each borough and satellite town will have its own council and mayor, and these will be responsible for supplying services which are divisible enough to fit their size; the borough authority will determine the rules which are applicable to area and are specific to their area.

4 A federal metropolitan organization, the 'Metropolitan Authority' in which the boroughs and satellite towns will participate, will be responsible for the services which cannot be divided, or will be too expensive to divide, between the local authorities, and for rules applicable to area and not specific to population or to an area. Amongst these services and rules will be included: planning doctrine, transport, infrastructure and medical centres. The Metropolitan Authority, in liaison with the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority, will be responsible for the rules governing the permeability of the border within Jerusalem. The Metropolitan Authority will launch and establish the bridge areas.

5 Two federal organizations - one Israeli and one Palestinian - will form the second tier of the metropolitan authority; these will be responsible for the supply of those non-divisible services which relate to the individual and which are specific to each population (such as higher education, national insurance and health insurance).

6 The border between the Palestinian and the Israeli populations in Jerusalem will define territory, but will be permeable to everything except residential use.

7 Each one of the boroughs and satellite towns will have borders which define residential areas and the extent of local government jurisdiction, but will allow passage of labour, information and know-how, goods and services.

8 The State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority will 'make room' for the organizational model proposed here. By 'make room', we refer to the creation of a 'defined judicial and governmental vacuum' which will allow the establishment of the local Jerusalem organizational set-up.

9 Bridge areas will be established between the two populations in a number of suitable areas - and these will fall under the responsibility of metropolitan organization.

4 The Bridge Areas

We propose establishing a number of 'bridge areas' in suitable places within the Jerusalem metropolitan area, with the following aims:

* separation between the Israeli and Palestinian residential areas

* exploitation of the potential of social and economic differences, in order to create joint social and economic activity for mutual benefit

* joint exploitation of the no man's land that exists between populated areas - to mutual benefit

* the prevention of the blocking of traffic arteries by the existence of homogeneous residential areas on the roads

* the exploitation of the bridge area and the traffic arteries that run through it as a means of transit between Israeli and Palestinian boroughs or satellite towns

4.1 A Bridge Area Programme

1 Bridge area borders will not prevent the passage of goods, workers or services across them.

2 There will be no residents in the bridge areas.

3 Activities permitted in the bridge areas will be those which create employment, trade, leisure and other services.

4 Bridge areas will be established in locations within the city and its metropolitan area.

5 Every bridge area will specialize in a certain mix of activities, with the aim of exploiting the particular potential of its location

6 All bridge areas will be planned within the framework of a strategic metropolitan plan in such a way that they will complement the city's range of activities - and yet winot threaten the city centre.

4.2 The Organizational Model

1 The bridge areas will fall under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Authority; within the borders of a bridge area, a special set of local rules and services can be enforced and provided. Such rules can be different from those prevailing in neighbouring areas, and at least in part different also from the national laws of the State of Israel and of the Palestinian Authority.

2 Examples of rules local to the bridge areas might include: local taxation, business hours, parking space allocation, and the closure of roads to certain types of vehicle. If minimum wage legislation can be seen as being specific to the place of employment, special minimum wage provisions could also be introduced in the bridge areas.

3 A bridge area can also provide a location for the provision of particular divisible services which are unlikely to be available in adjoining boroughs: gardening and cleaning, central heating or publicly-owned means of transport, which the individual could himself drive within the borders of the bridge area.

4 land appropriation for the purpose of establishing the bridge areas will be carried out using the conventional means provided by the planning system within a market economy: acquisition, subdivision and amalgamation of lots, and compulsory purchase. Each particular existing land ownership situation of a proposed bridge area will require its own solution, in accordance with the powers accorded to the Metropolitan Authority or any other organization with mutual agreement.

5 A bridge area will not be empowered to determine rules relating to passage across its borders: these will be determined by the Metropolitan Authority, in liaison with the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority.

6 Within the context of a metropolitan masterplan for all the bridge areas, each particular bridge area will be able to determine for itself the combination of activities that it will choose to specialize in, to fix rents for industrial use, and to create its own competitive edge.

7 The bridge areas will be jointly owned by public bodies and by private enterprise, and will be managed by a commercial company which will draw elements from both industrial parks and shopping centres.

8 The Metropolitan Authority can subsidize or levy charges from a bridge area, should it think fit to do so.


Elinoar Barzacchi - Architect and town planner, head of school of architecture in the Tel Aviv University.

Ishai Spharim - Private consultant in urban economy and urban planning.



כל הזכויות שמורות - איתי אלמוג, אדריכל-יוצר האתר
All rights reserved - Itay Almog, Architect-Site creator
© 2000 [,]

legal statement

Click Here!