In this series about planning in Palestine we’ve looked at three alternative ‘plans’. The first, thankfully, will never be built (although, chillingly, it’s really just a vision of present segregated reality). The second may well be built (though it would take a dramatic turnaround in political will). The third offers a glimpse of a progress-free future where nothing gets built (which is wholly unrealistic, given large population increases in the next 20 years).
These three visions of a future Palestine raise some important political questions and they show how spatial planning can focus the political process on actually getting things done. Here are some of the issues:
What kind of political-legal framework could actually purchase and reserve a contiguous Palestine transit corridor in its entirety, or indeed sponsor any kind of large scale infrastructure planning?
How could the Arc or anything similar be constructed in the absence of obvious funding (around $51bn required over ten years)?
What real commitment is there to the enhancement of infrastructure for Palestine, as opposed to the systematic destruction of infrastructure?
What is the role of spatial plans, or indeed any thought about the future when spatial integrity is unattained or unattainable?
In considering ways forward here it’s hard not to be reminded of the supposed difference between a pessimist and an optimist: the pessimist believes things can’t get any worse; the optimist knows they can.
Patrick Geddes, the regional planner who devised a plan for Tel Aviv (mentioned in Part 1), was certainly an optimist but he was not insulated from reality. In his work in British cities he was working to transform some of the worst physical and social effects of the Industrial Revolution. In the midst of the First World War he wrote:
‘among its worst slums, upon their buried filth and decay, our children are already rearing roses.’ (1915: 401)