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3/17/15

Israel: A New Community Rises In The West Bank ... And It's Not Israeli - by Steve Inskeep

Palestinian investor Bashar Masri is building an entirely new city in the West Bank. It's a huge investment, with 5,000 new homes for tens of thousands of families. And, in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it's also a political statement.

As we approached this new city of Rawabi, north of Ramallah, we saw a row of high-rise apartment buildings topped by construction cranes. Scaffolding surrounds the minaret of an incomplete mosque. Nobody has moved in yet.

Masri has had to battle for years, but says he finally has permission to hook up the water system, which is controlled by Israel. The military occupation of the West Bank often complicates Palestinian efforts to build, and this distinctive project was no exception.

The buildings of Rawabi are clad in limestone, and in a stoneyard next to the project, we watched men in hard hats chiseling decorative grooves into stone tiles by hand, one by one by one.
Masri has done as much work as possible locally in order to make it harder for Israel's government to block materials from being brought in.

Some foreign assistance was required, though — namely, financing. In honor of the wealthy Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar, which has invested in the project and others in the Palestinian areas, the planned city's main street is shaped like the capital letter Q.

Read more: A New Community Rises In The West Bank ... And It's Not Israeli : Parallels : NPR

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