The Conference on Nordic and International Urban Morphology: Distinctive and Common Themes

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Research Title: 
Urban Development and Planning in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: Impacts on Urban Form
Ali Abdelhamid
Sun, 2006-09-03
Urban Development and Planning in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: Impacts on Urban Form2.22 MB
Research Abstract: 
Urban development and planning practice and experience in Palestine which stemmed back to mid 19th Century had passed through various changes and developments in terms of characteristics, policies, principles, and management. In addition, the urban planning system in Palestine seems to be unique in its composition and context. This uniqueness is related to the fact that planning practice was controlled and experienced by external forces (or foreigners) and not by native bodies (the Palestinians themselves). This, of course, is due to the long period of mandate and occupation for the Palestinian land by several nations.
The current interim and temporary stage that the Palestinian society in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) (West Bank and Gaza Strip) passes through, particularly after signing the Oslo Agreement in 1994 and the followed Israeli partial withdraws from the OPT, despite the continuous land confiscation for building Israeli settlements and by-pass roads as well as the reoccupation of most of the Palestinian cities and villages since the beginning of Alaqsa Intifata (second uprising) in 2000, and the resulted destruction of houses and infrastructure besides the construction of the Separation Wall along the West Bank have imposed a new situation and put various challenges in front of the Palestinian planning institutions (specially on the local level) and prevented the possibility of providing and implementing the attained physical planning.
The limited available land, the rapidly growing population of Palestine, the misuse of urban development, and the decisions of policy makers and all planning issues associated with the political situation and the long period of occupation with its policies and implications played a major role in the formulation of urban form, in addition to the spread of uncontrolled urban developments in the cities, and to the diffusion of urban sprawls within the landscapes and around the cities.

This paper will focus on analyzing the development and changes in urban form of Palestinian cities and towns as well as the determination of the major factors and impacts that affected urban morphology and urban form.