Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is promoting an ambitious development plan for the transportation infrastructure in Judea and Samaria over the next 15 years, according to a Makor Rishon report Friday, as well as a press release issued by the Defense Ministry on Wednesday. The project’s master plan, formulated by GOC Central Command Gen. Roni Numa under Liberman’s guidance, will be presented soon to the National Security Council and the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
According to the plan, highway 5, which runs east from the coastal highway 2 just north of Tel Aviv to Ariel, will be expanded and reach all the way to the Jordan Valley.
Rt. 60, a south-north road that stretches from Beer Sheva to Nazareth through Judea and Samaria, will become a four-lane highway.
The Mateh Binyamin Regional Council, which is adjacent to Ramallah and includes major Israeli settlements such as Beit El and Ofra, will be connected directly via a new highway to Rt. 443, which is an alternative highway from the coast to Jerusalem.
The plan for the new highways constitute a stern message from the Defense Ministry that Israel is there to stay – seeing as the projects’ costs will reach billions of dollars. But more than the costs – Israel had invested billions in the Gaza Strip and still had no problem abandoning it – it’s the way the project was presented by the ministry.
“In the next decade, Highway 6 (Israel’s fast, toll highway) is going to jam up, and we must take care of the infrastructure of highway 5 and expand Rt. 60 so that motorists are able to choose alternative roads to overcome the traffic jams,” is how a defense ministry official explained the plan.
In other words, those three new highways are not planned do much as a security move as they are part of a solution to Israel’s burgeoning traffic problems – meaning that all those nice new highways will be part of Israel fifteen years from now, where Israeli worker will be driving to work every morning, from sea to shiny river.
Likewise, the new plan will solve traffic problems at Jerusalem’s exits and entries, such as across the area between the capital and Ma’aleh Adumim, the first area expected to be annexed in the near future. A new, spacious highway connecting Jerusalem and the Israeli city smack at the center of the “west bank” will spell the end of the PA’s hopes for a contiguous Palestinian State.
Speaking to reporters last week, Minister Liberman was asked about the new American peace plan, and said he was unable to related to things in which he did not believe. It appears that what the defense minister does trust are facts on the ground, such as highways Israelis could use to get to work faster – through the heart of Area C and, presumably, protected from the threat of Arab stones and Molotov cocktails.
That part still needs to be perfected.