After Israeli PM Netanyahu declared that Israel would never share Jerusalem with a future Palestine state, the Palestinian Authority has announced that it has started construction on a the first new planned Palestinian city. The $500 million dollar city – to be dubbed Rawabi – is designed after modern American suburbs and will contain office buildings as well as affordable housing. The problem – and there is always a problem in Palestine – is that the future city will be accessed by a road that needs to be built. While this doesn’t seem like a big deal, 2 km of the proposed road runs through Israeli-controlled territory (in Palestine).
Israel has yet to reply to requests for the transfer of territory (for the access road) to the PA, but the construction has already started on Rawabi. The city, which should be completed by 2013, is funded by investment companies from Qatar and Palestine while the US Overseas Private Investment Corp. – the investment branch of the US government – is providing mortgage assistance.
Logically, Israel will transfer authority of the land needed for the access road to the PA, very little in the West Bank is logical. However, if the project makes significant progress, it can be taken as a sign that Palestine is serious about statehood. Israel’s response to the land transfer request will be very telling. The city is within view of an Israeli settlement and, on good days, Tel Aviv, meaning that if Israel is concerned about violence from a future Palestinian state, Rawabi – located on a hill – would be a point of concern. I will try to follow the evolution of this story, but, unfortunately, the story is not receiving much coverage.