The city of Rawabi (pictured) is a flagship Palestinian project. It is a modern, planned town of 40,000 homes aimed at moving Palestinian society forward.
But while the first apartments are ready to be occupied, they remain empty. Israel’s Water Authority has thus far refused to connect Rawabi to the Israeli water network.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon isn’t pleased by the situation, and has been working on behalf of getting Rawabi connected to the water system and operating as a symbol of what Palestinian society can become if it focuses on advancement rather than conflict with Israel.
Legally, Rawabi can only be connected to the Israeli water network by a decision of the joint Israeli-Palestinian Water Committee (JWC), but this committee has not met in over five years.
With the help of IDF Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, military coordinator for the Palestinian-controlled territories, Yaalon is looking to bypass the JWC, and has ordered that Rawabi and several Jewish communities in the area be connected to the water network immediately.
But Yaalon has found opposition in fellow Likud politician Infrastructure Minister Silvan Shalom, who insists on formal approval for the project by the JWC. It is the Palestinian side that since 2010 has refused to appear at the JWC meetings, and Shalom said that Rawabi could instantly receive approval for water if only the Palestinian Authority would change its attitude and again start working together with Israel.