Settlers protest new Palestinian city
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
Binyamin Citizens’ Committee: Rawabi will connect Jenin to Hebron.
Settlers who believe a Palestinian state is being unilaterally built in their backyard plan to march on Thursday afternoon, to protest against what will soon be the new Palestinian city of Rawabi.
Rawabi is 9 km. northwest of Ramallah, 25 km. south of Nablus and 20 km. north of Jerusalem.
Avishay Mizrachi of the neighboring Ateret settlement said that from his community, he can see bulldozers working seven days a week.
“It’s an impressive pace,” Mizrachi said.
Rawabi, which will be under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority, is expected to house more than 40,000 people. It will have its own commercial center, a hospital and a movie theater.
The project to build the first state-of-the-art planned city for Palestinians has been lauded by the international community and even boosts a Facebook page with 1,499 supporters.
One message in English to Palestinians on the Facebook site said, “May you have prosperity and success in this venture.”
Settlers have opposed the city’s construction, fearing that it is part of a plan by PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to unilaterally seek statehood.
“He, Fayyad, wants to create a de facto state on the ground and Rawabi is part of that program,” said Mizrachi, who is one of the organizers of Thursday’s march.
The project could have been attached to an existing Palestinian city, but the Palestinians wanted to place such a city in the heart of the Binyamin region, the Binyamin Citizens’ Committee said in a release it sent to the media.
It said that the city was part of Fayyad’s plan to build a Palestinian state from the bottom up, by creating territorial contiguity from Jenin to Hebron.
This isn’t about a place to live for Palestinians, “it is a state in the making,” the committee said.
In its flyer for the march, settlers warned against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s plan to offer the PA 500 dunams (50 hectares) of West Bank territory under Israeli control, so that it can build an access road to Rawabi.
That would divide the Binyamin region and set a dangerous precedent for relinquishing territory without a cabinet decision or a Knesset vote, the committee said.
The Web site for Rawabi, which is being developed in conjunction with the PA by the Bayti Real Estate Investment Company, does not delve into the politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Instead it shows photographs of well planned streets with green spaces. It speaks about the economy, the environment and affordable living opportunities for Palestinians.
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