Bethlehem, West Bank—At the edge of Bethlehem, a few blocks from Gilo terminal, past one of the checkpoints where anyone who needs to reach Israel must pass, is a small apartment—its view obstructed by the Barrier. The home was recently built by its Palestinian Christian owner, Adnan, from money he had saved while working for a foreign company in Jerusalem. His permit had recently expired, though, and he was no longer able to work in Jerusalem. Still, Adnan, who asked that his name not be used in this explosive environment, had worked intensely for decades. He had managed to save enough to build a home not only for himself and his family, but also to add a two-bedroom guesthouse. He was now seeking a tenant.

The price of living in Bethlehem is often a commute to Jerusalem. Two decades earlier, the...

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