Children in school
Children in school Israel news photo: Flash 90

National Union party leader MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh) declared some surprising support for construction of the Arab city of Rawabi, saying its construction should be hastened for the sake of the Jews who will be soon arriving from around the world. 

He spoke at a protest this morning where parents in the Jewish towns of Ateret and nearby N’vei Tzuf, in southern Samaria, sent their children off to morning classes one day before the school year starts – but not in school. The children are studying in an "open classroom" of an unusual type – one that is open to the elements and dangers of Palestinian terrorism.

The classes are being held under the Bir Zeit bridge along the east-west road leading from Ofrah/Beit El to Petach Tikvah/Rosh HaAyin. The road serves the residents of Ateret and N’vei Tzuf, as well as other Jewish towns – but is set to be bi-sected by the planned Arab highway to Rawabi, which is ominously under intense preparatory construction just to the north of Ateret.

Giving the PA control of that north-south road would grant the PA significant territorial contiguity leading from Ramallah to Bir Zeit and to the new city of Rawabi and Shechem. (On the accompanying map, Rawabi would be just to the north of Ateret.) 

“We should encourage the government to speed up the construction in Rawabi,” Katz told the students, “so that it will be able to house all the Jews from around the world who will be arriving in Israel. The Arabs built us Ramle and Lod, and they will also build us Rawabi, which we should name North Ateret."

“All U.S. Secretaries of State have been busy trying to get Jews out of the Land of Israel,” Katz said, “but the amount of Jews in Judea and Samaria (Yesha) keeps rising. If we now have 320,000 Jews in Yesha, according to the latest statistics, then within ten years there will be a million.”

Optimism aside, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently pledged to grant the PA full control over the area through which the Rawabi highway is to run. He told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee earlier this month that he will do so if the PA agrees to direct talks. Those talks are in fact beginning ceremoniously tomorrow in Washington; no word about the Rawabi highway has been received.

The Oslo Accords currently categorize the Rawabi route as Area C, under full Israeli control. The PA wants it to become Area B – under PA administrative control and Israeli military control. Area A territory, such as the cities of Shechem and Jenin and large areas of the Shomron, is under full PA control

The protesting residents want to emphasize that handing over the area to the PA is liable to cut off eastern Binyamin (southern Samaria) from western Binyamin, preventing traffic from getting through and children from reaching their schools. 

Residents say that the new Rawabi highway can traverse the existing Jewish route without changing the status of the lands.

At a meeting of Likud party Cabinet ministers on Monday, the majority said they object to the transfer of the land, and informed Netanyahu that they would vote against it if it comes up for a government vote.