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Immigration and West Bank Settlement Normalization



This article draws on fieldwork in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, where nearly half of the residents are immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, and argues that the immigrants-turned-settlers of the 1990s and beyond are the subjects of contemporary normalizing procedures. This renders them the quintessential neoliberal settlers, amenable to market-adjusted fluctuations in settlement patterns that include opportune expansion, depreciation, and dismantlement. A discussion of immigration in Ariel illustrates an ex post facto politics in the West Bank that puts into relief some of the conundrums of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The ethnography establishes that it is precisely through their pragmatism that immigrant-settlers become political agents despite themselves: a conclusion that has serious consequences for the Israel-Palestine conflict in general.