The book introduces readers to the bureaucracy of the occupation in the West Bank. Drawing on legal materials, administrative documents, interviews, and observations, the author uncovers the population control system and permits regime that restrict the movement of the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and that rely on a complex and sometimes Kafkaesque organizational dynamic that is largely hidden from public view.
Unlike the bureaucracies of liberal regimes, whose fundamental principles were laid forth by Max Weber, the bureaucracy of the occupation employs the colonialist and imperialist model that undemocratic regimes use to control the native population. This bureaucracy benefits from administrative flexibility and permanent emergency regulations based on the exceptions to the law.
The lives of the Palestinian residents of the territories are ruled by an array of agencies, including the Police, the Civil Administration, the Border Police, the Coordinator of Activities in the Territories, the Employment Service, and the General Security Service. This system, whose activities are based on mechanisms for identifying and screening human beings on the basis of secret decisions, inconsistent policy, and the collection of intelligence, is an extreme case of the population control mechanism whose practices and modes of operation influence not only the West Bank and its Palestinian residents but also mold the state bureaucracy that runs the lives of the citizens and residents of Israel.