This article examines Israel’s control of international presence in Palestine as an ‘international mobilities regime’ that has damaging effects for the provision of services in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Focusing specifically on educators and medics, the discussion draws on long-term fieldwork to set international visa restrictions in the context of the ‘internal’ control of Palestinians’ mobilities before documenting the effects for education and healthcare provision. Discussion then turns to the scale and function of bureaucracy that produces a further significant effect: to make nothing happen whereby projects are stalled, cancelled or rendered inconceivable. To this methodologically elusive function, the approach proposed here is to attend to an order of ‘what would have been’ to better understand the power of bureaucracy to prevent movement and make people stay in place. Two main arguments are made: that Israel has developed an international mobilities regime that extends its control over Palestinian spaces; and that the scale of control is perceptible only by careful attention to the lost possibilities effected by bureaucratic restriction–and key contributions are explicated for further enquiry into bureaucracy-as-deterrent, the international dimensions of Israel’s mobility restrictions and a turn to ‘unspectacular’ sites of colonial control.
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© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.