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The ends of justice: climate vulnerability beyond the pale

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Liberal egalitarian theorists of justice seek to bring the least advantaged into the fold of moral concern, but are found wanting when confronted both with the problem structure of climate change and the challenge of a protracted belligerent occupation. Both conditions are under-examined in liberal political theory, and when these circumstances converge, as with the climate vulnerability of the Palestinians, the limitations are compounded. In contrast, Giorgio Agamben’s ‘state of exception’ thesis claims to offer theoretical insights on conditions beyond the legal and moral pale of liberal justice: here the exceptional case unmasks the unacknowledged conditions of political authority, notably the arbitrary violence of a ‘force of law without law’ against those seen as threatening the security of the state. And it is the nature of Israel as a security state, under a constant emergency footing, that gives force to claims that it embodies a state of exception. This chapter examines the means by which Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory affects the vulnerability of Palestinians to the disruptive climate change impacts forecast for the region. It is concluded that the state of exception thesis does not capture the politics of climate injustice in the occupied Palestinian territory.

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