According to sources who were at the Herzliya event, the idea was received with enthusiasm by the attendees, including Defense Minister Amir Peretz. The Palestinian Authority has already allocated land for the new city. ...The new city is supposed to be built between Ramallah and Nablus, that is to say, north-center West Bank. Forgive me for being skeptical, but... note the following rule has generally held for anything built in the Palestinian territories:
They see the new community as comprising several thousand housing units containing 140 to 200 square meters of floor space apiece. It will be meant mainly for young, middle-class families.
(1) It gets destroyed.
Like, for instance, pretty much everything built during the days of "peace" in the late '90s that was funded by international aid money. [To be fair, Gaza had it much worse, but is the West Bank that good of an investment right now, even for charity capital infusions?]
Who is going to pay for these construction workers? They are hoping for international support. "Small businesses" are supposed to be part of the economy... well, that requires a few roadblocks to actually be removed (that is, the IDF doesn't lie about them) so that inter-city transportation can occur. I mean, the idea is fine--if there's a peace agreement. Until then, it's throwing money down a hole.
Here's an interesting quote:
"It's not any of Israel's business if the Palestinians want to build a city on their territory," said one [of the Defense Ministry officials].
Hmm. Really? Well then, why are you at this meeting? Oh, right... "their territory" doesn't really exist. According to the Oslo accords--the entire basis for Area A--there is Palestinian "jurisdiction over territory," but there's no sovereignty, of course. And then there's the matter of actually getting all the construction materials to the little island of territory that this "city" will be built on.
So, the Israelis are all there (a pretty good list in the article) to approve plans for a Palestinian city. Funny how Oslo has created the autonomy for the Arabs that Begin wanted, and how the five-year PA has achieved permanence. And how easily it was predicted by some. But... that's a matter for another posting.
Update: Speaking of cities, though not the same one: The Head Heeb, an extremely well-spoken and well-informed blogger, has a great post on a proposed new Arab city in Israel, as well as the continued battle for integration of previously Jewish-only communities, and the dynamic of racial separation within Israel proper.