Some 200 residents of settlements in the Benjamin region, in central Judea and Samaria, rallied Sunday night on Route 465, in protest of the new access road being paved to serve Rawabi, the modern urban center of the planned Palestinian state.
Led by Rosh ha’Moa’atza (County Clerk) Avi Roeh, the Jewish residents arrived at the work site to demonstrate against connecting the existing and the new roads. They were joined by Likud activists.
“Rawabi was born in sin,” Itzik Shadmi, chairman of the residents committee of Benjamin Region, told Ma’ariv. “It was planned deliberately in a location that would create a contiguous Arab settlement to serve the additional Arab state in the heart of Eretz Israel. It also affects environmental quality and Israel’s mountain aquifer (underground water table).”
The road that will connect the Arab city of Ramallah to Rawabi runs south to north, and halfway through it crosses highway 465, the cross-Benjamin highway, the central access road to Ateret and Halamish.in West Benjamin.
In the future a tunnel will be dug at this junction, to allow Palestinians to drive under Route 465. But for the time being, the Ramallah-Rawabi road will connect directly to highway 465, which will become part of Ramallah-Rawabi for a mile and a half.
A member of the Benjamin residents’ committee explained that the entry and exit of vehicles to Palestinians from Highway 465 is done only with road signs and no traffic lights at the junction. “We know the wild manner of driving of many of the Palestinians,” he said. “Put them here on the road, and they’ll turn it into a major traffic artery, with us as moving targets on the highway.”
Jewish settlers fear another security aspect of heavy Palestinian traffic on the road. “It could be a major Palestinian event, or a funeral, causing serious traffic jams, and then if an Israeli vehicle is stuck inside a Palestinian convoy, it could end with very unpleasant consequences,” the source suggested.
Rawabi (“The Hills” in Arabic) is the first Palestinian planned city in Judea and Samaria, located near Ramallah and Bir Zeit. The master plan for the city calls for constructing 10,000 homes in six neighborhoods with a population of 40,000.
Over the course of two years, before construction began, the developers bought private property from 2,000 families living in Canada, Iraq, Spain, Kuwait, Britain, Portugal and Italy. The source of the city’s water supply is not yet clear, with the most obvious solution being hooking it up to Mekorot, the Israeli water utility, via the settlement of Ateret.
The Palestinian website The Electronic Intifada accused Bashar Masri, the Palestinian businessman and CEO of the company developing the “Rawabi luxury real estate project in the occupied West Bank,” of “actively helping Israel deepen its hold on the Palestinian economy despite his earlier claims that he is trying to help end this relationship.” This because “a dozen Israeli companies have been contracted to take part in the construction of Rawabi.”