PALESTINIAN $1 BILLION COMPLEX FOR UPPER INCOME FAMILIES = DISTRACTS FROM ISRAELIS MASS MURDERS OF CHILDREN + APARTHEID PRISON + OVERWHELMING DESTRUCTION OF PALESTINIAN HOMES + US PROTECTED SCHOOLS + FLATTENING OF 4 HOSPITALS SUMMER 2014
“Palestine’s Billion-Dollar City Can Finally Open” = After 5 Years Israel finnally agrees to allow water to the new homes
Rawabi = “The Hills” is first Palestinian master planned high-tech city built for Palestinians in the West Bank = Hailed as a “flagship Palestinian enterprise” = 6,000 housing units with potential population of between 25 to 40,000 people spread across six neighborhoods.
Rawabi = Largest private sector project in Palestinian history and construction began in Jan 2010. Rawabi Development = “is specifically designed for upwardly mobile families similar in concept to Reston, VA — Will rely on American-style home mortgages.
Rawabi Project = Criticized by a number of Palestinian movements + Some Israeli settler groups, for different reasons. Israel has withheld supplying the city with water, and its apartments are uninhabited ghost town.
The construction site stretches over two ridges, 700 meters above sea level. On a clear day, it is possible to see the Mediterranean Sea, 40 kilometres (25 mi) to the west, and Tel Aviv from the site. The Palestinian National Authority does not need Israeli approval for construction since the land for Rawabi falls entirely within Area ‘A’, which is under full Palestinian control.
Rawabi Development = Mostly funded by a Qatari company LDR and Palestinian multimillionaire Bashar Masri = US$850 million.
Rawabi Project = Part of nation-building construction for a future Palestinian state. The project involves a public-private partnership between Masri’s property investment firm. The Palestinian Authority is responsible for providing off-site infrastructure, while Bayti is tasked with the design and development of the city.
The Rawabi economic growth strategy = Creating 3,000 to 5,000 new jobs in “knowledge economy” industries including information technology, pharmaceuticals and health care.
Thousands of saplings will be planted as part of a greening project.
The 600,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank are serviced with 6 times the quantity of water allocated to the area’s 2.7 million Palestinians.
Rawabi Project = was repeatedly delayed by failures in water supply, and Masri has stated that he can spend up to 70% of his time coping with water and access problems. Israel had still not come through with the requested permit in February 2015. As a result the financial viability of the development project is under threat.
The city has a state of the art water grid – eventually serviced also by a huge water reservoir roughly half a kilometres outside the city – which is linked to a 2.4-km pipe through areas A and B under Palestinian civil administration.
Israel has still to provide permission for the final link to the Israeli water company Mekorot’s plant in Umm Safa, 1.1 kilometres across Area C, which is under Israeli military administration.
Rawabi Project = 7 years after construction began + 5 years of Israeli-Palestinian politicking, the new almost $Billion city in the rolling hills of the West Bank can finally open its doors, following the Israeli government’s decision to authorize the flow of water to the largest building project in Palestinian history including promise of a football stadium, a Roman amphitheatre.
Despite years of delay by Israelis refusal to allow water servicing of the city — The project is now on the verge of occupying its first batch of homes for the 650 families, amounting to approximately 3,000 people, who have been waiting to inhabit their new homes.
Finally Netanyahu announced that water from Israel’s grid would be connected to the aspiring city by the country’s Water Authority. “It will take about two to three months for the water to be connected. We should be in business and delivering homes by May. I am very excited. For the first time in more than a year I can go to a meeting without having to worry about the water. Now I can go in and say ‘I’ve got the water, what’s next?’”
Some say the project, a sign of Palestinian potential, masks the reality on the ground in the West Bank and gives the impression that Palestinians can live in economic prosperity despite the presence of an Israeli military occupation. = “The project creates this illusion that there is this happy space in Palestine that is independent of the military occupation which governs many aspects of Palestinian life.” — Yousef Munayyer, Palestinian-American analyst.
Lisa Goldman, director of Israel-Palestine Initiative agrees construction of the $1 billion dollar complex distracts from the essential issue of the Israeli occupation and its effect on Palestinians. = “I think this is more of a publicity stunt in many ways. = “Critics argue that this is making the occupation look good…”
Rawabi Palestinians have had their lives on hold because of the ongoing water dispute — NOW are jubilant. “I feel so happy. It is very good news. I think about it day and night,” the father of four says excitedly. “It is a new life in Rawabi for me.”