Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan (Likud) toured the site of the new Palestinian Authority city of Rawabi, and called for the project to be halted for environmental reasons. He said the city as it is being constructed is bound to cause irreversible environmental damage.
Erdan said that if the inquiries forwarded to the PA by his ministry's experts are not met with satisfactory answers in a few weeks' time, he will turn to the Ministry of Defense and make sure the construction is halted.
"Pollution has no borders,” Erdan said. He will therefore take action against Rawabi although it is in in “Area A” of the PA which is under PA administrative and security control.
Rawabi is being built with the Israeli government's consent, near the communities of Ateret and Nveh Tzuf north of Jerusalem. Construction is being carried out at a breakneck pace, with builders at work in shifts around the clock, seven days a week – including the Muslim holy day of Friday.
Jewish residents believe the accelerated building is meant to create facts on the ground and forestall the possibility that the city's construction will be halted.
Jewish local government heads in the Binyamin region have repeatedly complained that Rawabi has not presented plans for environmental protection and that it is certain to pollute the adjoining streams.
Erdan said that if it were up to him, Rawabi would not have been built, but the decision to allow its construction was taken long before his appointment to the government and he has no choice but to live with it. He also noted the unfairness in allowing Arabs to carry on the construction of Rawabi while Jews were not allowed to build at all for ten months.