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      IDF General: Make Neve Dekalim an Arab Tourist Resort

      An IDF General wants Gush Katif's 1125 acres of hothouses to become businesses for Arab farmers, and Jewish homes in N'vei Dekalim to serve Arab resort guests. The World Bank adopts his ideas.
      First Publish: 5/18/2005, 1:39 PM / Last Update: 5/17/2005, 6:01 PM

      An IDF General, Yosef Mishlev, the government’s coordinator of activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, told Israel Radio on Tuesday morning that he favors handing over all the hothouses in Gush Katif to the Palestinian Authority. He feels that Arab farmers can establish thriving businesses on the 4500 dunams (1,125 acres) of land.

      Mishlev said that Israel should take an active part in building the Palestinian economy in Gaza after the government expels the area’s 10,000 Jewish residents. The Druze general said that in his opinion, the homes, business, and infrastructure of Gaza’s Jewish communities should be used to bolster the PA’s economy and not be destroyed.

      According to the cabinet decision authorizing the expulsion, all the Jewish communities in Gaza and northern Samaria were to be razed. The issue of whether to raze the communities or leave them for the Palestinians has been the subject of debate among government ministers over the past few weeks. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said recently that he was in favor of leaving the communities intact because of the prohibitive cost of destroying them and carting away the debris. He said razing Gush Katif might endanger the lives of soldiers left behind to guard the operation.

      Mishev's suggestions take that policy one step further, recommending that the infrastructure of Gush Katif remain in place and be used to develop the Palestinian economy. He proposes that Neveh Dekalim, the largest community in Gush Katif, located just off the Gaza beach, become an Arab tourist resort. The homes would welcome vacationing Arab guests.

      Mishlev also favors transferring the Neve Dekelim and Erez industrial zones to Arab businesses with Israel providing their electricity, paid for by international donors.

      According to Mishlev’s plan, despite the disengagement, Israel would remain actively involved in finding jobs for unemployed Palestinians workers and opportunities for PA businessmen. He suggests that 35,000 Arab workers from the PA should be granted work permits in Israel until 2008. Israel should also increase the number of Palestinian businessmen allowed to travel into Israel, and grant them VIP status.

      General Mishlev’s recommendations have appeared in a plan drafted by the World Bank for rehabilitating the Palestinian economy.