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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: November 2009

1 - Introduction


Majid was a West Bank Palestinian, and for ten years he had worked in a fruit warehouse on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Following a bomb attack in Tel Aviv in the late 1990s his Israeli employer had sacked him and refused to give him his redundancy pay. Majid had then turned to a lawyer based in Tel Aviv, and three years later the case had finally arrived at court. On the morning of the hearing Majid and I sat in a minibus making its way from the Palestinian National Authority (PNA)-controlled town of Ramallah to Israeli-controlled Jerusalem. After half an hour or so the road ahead was blocked by an Israeli checkpoint, and the driver of the minibus turned around to ask his passengers whether they had the necessary permits. Since the start of the Oslo Peace Process in the early 1990s, the number of checkpoints, and permits needed to pass through them, had increased exponentially. Half of the minibus passengers, Majid included, said that they did not have the permits for the checkpoint ahead. On hearing this, the driver turned off to the left, and we wound our way through a residential area, around the offices of the World Bank, and eventually back to the main road, completely bypassing the checkpoint. After a further twenty minutes of heavy traffic we arrived at a major intersection.