Jews living in Judea and Samaria have faced increasingly unsafe roads in recent months, with terror attacks and violent carjackings by Palestinian Authority (PA) Arabs on the rise. Now they are dealing with a new potential threat as the PA plans to bring thousands more Arab drivers onto Israeli roads.
The PA is planning to connect the new Arab city of Rawabi to the trans-Binyamin highway, Highway 465. The city is to be home to over 25,000 people.
Plans to connect Rawabi to the road recently were approved by the IDF Civil Administration.
Jews living in the region held a protest against the plans on Sunday. Protesters pointed out that not only could terrorists make use of PA traffic on the road to carry out attacks, but the heavy increase in traffic would pose other dangers.
Highway 465 is already a dangerous road with many twists and turns, and adding more cars would add fatalities, said Binyamin Regional Council head Avi Roeh, who spoke to Arutz Sheva about the rally.
Roeh pointed out that former Civil Administration head Yoav Mordechai had recommended against putting Rawabi residents and Israeli drivers on the same road, and had suggested that instead a road be built under Highway 465 to connect Rawabi to existing PA roads. That solution would allow freedom of movement to Rawabi residents without endangering others, he said.
The Civil Administration has said that the planned connection between Rawabi and Highway 465 would be temporary. However, Roeh said, residents remain concerned, as there appear to be no plans for a different traffic arrangement.
If the Civil Administration were to connect Rawabi to Israel roads while at the same time planning a permanent connection to PA highways, local Jews might feel differently, he added. As it is, he said, “There is nothing more permanent than ‘temporary.’”
Alongside the protest, Jewish leaders in the area are working to convince relevant parties such as the Transportation Minister and members of Knesset of the dangers.
Several other concerns have been raised regarding Rawabi. Local Jews have expressed fear that its location overlooking an Israeli highway could increase attacks. In addition, construction of the city has been linked to a PA boycott of Israel, the uprooting of JNF trees, and regional pollution.
The city has found an unlikely ally in staunchly pro-Land of Israel MK Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz, who says the PA should keep building Rawabi full force -- so that it can someday serve as a home to millions of Jews who make aliyah to Israel.