Haifa City profile: Emergent binationalism in a settler colonial city

Eilat Maoz, Nadeem Karkabi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Haifa, a major seaport in the Eastern Mediterranean, is one of Israel's “mixed cities” where Palestinians and Jews live together. Yet, unlike other mixed localities, which witness rising tensions due to relentless settler colonization, Haifa maintains a relative modus vivendi. In this city profile, we seek to explicate the causes and consequences of this outstanding situation and pose the notion of a binational city as a path to urban decolonization. Drawing on historical records, city plans, and interviews with residents, we trace Haifa's binational urbanism from its modern beginnings to the present. We show how Palestinian and Jewish urbanism developed in Haifa from the early 20th century, and how the city was transformed into an ethnically homogenous settler colonial space in the wake of ethnic cleansing. We then explain how the legacies of colonial planning, deindustrialization, and globalization led to Haifa's urban decline in recent decades, thereby making room for indigenous urban revival, and for urban relations based on more egalitarian foundations. Examining contemporary plans and urban developments, we claim Haifa presents hopeful possibilities for binational decolonization. However, realizing this potential requires redistributive efforts and instituting the principle of parity across all domains of urban politics and planning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104686
StatePublished - Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Decolonization
  • Palestine/Israel
  • Port cities
  • Settler-colonial cities
  • Urban binationalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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