Cornerstone Laid on Gush Katif Ruins for New Arab City

The Palestinian Authority has broken ground for a new city on the ruins of the Israeli community of Morag in southern Gush Katif/Gaza. It is not planned to house long-suffering Arab refugees.<BR><br/>

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 09:29

The new town will be named Sheikh Khalifa City, in honor of the president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who is donating the $100 million its construction will cost. Khalifa's brother, UAE Information Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, attended Saturday's groundbreaking ceremony.



The new town will not be used to ease the housing crisis in the PA's refugee camps, but will rather house relatives of those killed in the years of violence against Israel, other casualties such as the wounded and arrested, and families whose homes were razed during the war.

The Arabs have claimed for close to 60 years that the establishment of the State of Israel is that which prevents the permanent settling of Arabs displaced by the 1948 War of [Israel's] Independence.

Despite this, writes analyst and former IDF Intelligence officer Yonatan D. HaLevy, the PA's pointed refusal to use the newly-recovered areas for the refugees indicates its desire to "perpetuate the Palestinian refugee problem. The Palestinian Authority zealously refrains from settling the refugees, who are the large majority of the population of the Gaza Strip, in new communities that are to be built in the areas of the demolished [Jewish] towns. Even though settling these refugees would not detract from the PA's negotiating demands, it appears that the PA prefers to leave the refugees to be used as a central lever in the crucial stage of the conflict."

PA chief Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) said at the groundbreaking ceremony, "The Palestinian nation will continue its campaign towards the liberation of the West Bank and Jerusalem, and towards the construction of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital."

The new town is to have 25,000 residents, living on an area of only one square kilometer (less than 40% of a square mile). Despite this, PA officials say that schools, mosques, medical facilities, a community center and green spaces will also be included in the planning.