RAMALLAH, February 26 (JMCC) - After a three-year wait, builders constructing a Palestinian city north of Ramallah will be allowed to use a road through an Israeli-controlled area of the West Bank - but only temporarily, reports the
This month, work on the road will finally begin. And once complete, around 100 trucks a day will travel along it, bypassing the narrow village road that until now served as the only access to the construction site.
But the hard-won approval is only for a temporary road, and could be rescinded at any time, illustrating the unique challenges facing [Bashar] Masri's ambitious project -- which is about much more than real estate.
The businessman, who lived overseas for many years and holds US citizenship, envisages a model city that attracts employers and allows people to work where they live.
There are so many complications. The road is temporary, we have to apply for its renewal every year, they could stop it at any time, he says.
But Masri is optimistic that the project, which is likely to cost in the region of $1 billion, will be both profitable and politically beneficial.
He also believes the city will be a model for a way the Palestinians can stake a claim to their land and curb the expansion of Israeli settlements that dot the West Bank.
It's a ticking time bomb and I think the Palestinians have made a mistake by not creating facts on their land.
But attitudes are now changing, says Masri, a tall, thin energetic man in his 50s who speaks clipped English peppered with Americanisms but is perfectly comfortable in his native Palestinian Arabic.
Hopefully with Rawabi it's just one more step in that direction.