Steps to a two state solution: For Israel, for Palestine, for peace
Step Thirteen: Support the development of Rawabi
The first pre-planned Palestinian city, Rawabi is a $1.4bn development in the West Bank and the brainchild of Palestinian entrepreneur and businessman Bashar Masri. Close to Ramallah, the project has faced opposition from both Israeli settlers and right-wingers and the BDS movement, but Masri is unrepentant, suggesting: “I’m creating jobs for my fellow Palestinians. I am populating the land [and] if I’m not doing it, the settlers are. We’re not sugar-coating the occupation. We’re not normalising with the occupation. We are defying the occupation.” The development of Rawabi – which aims to eventually provide homes for around 40,000 Palestinians and will include business, educational, shopping and leisure facilities – stalled in 2014 thanks to a now-resolved dispute with Israel about the supply of water and is now motoring again. An innovative mortgage system, unusual in the West Bank, is attracting middle-class Palestinian home-buyers, while Masri envisages a tech hub opened in 2018 forming the nucleus of the future state’s very own Silicon Valley. “It’s about nation-building,” Masri argues.
Rawabi deserves international political and economic support as a model for the kind of private sector-led growth that will be crucial to underpinning the success of a Palestinian state.