Largest tourism project in West Bank gets underway
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Largest tourism project in West Bank gets underway

Billionaire Munib al-Masri's Gate of Jericho plan to feature a series of high-level hotels over 740 acres outside Jericho

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

Illustrative photo of Israeli soldiers walking past Palestinian flags near the West Bank city of Jericho. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of Israeli soldiers walking past Palestinian flags near the West Bank city of Jericho. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

The largest tourism project in the Palestinian-controlled territories in the West Bank is taking off. This week, bulldozers, funded by Palestinian company Padico Holdings, began construction work on the Gate of Jericho.

The ambitious plan will include the establishment of a series of hotels that will include hundreds of rooms, swimming pools, water slides, restaurants and cafes.

The Gate of Jericho project will stretch across a huge area, about 740 acres wide, south of Jericho, toward the Dead Sea, over a swath of land in the Palestinian-controlled Area A. In recent years, the land was covered in palm trees belonging to Padico.

The holding company’s new plan was approved by Israel, partly because the construction in its entirety is taking place in Palestinian-controlled area. Padico, the largest Palestinian company in the West Bank, is owned by the billionaire Munib al-Masri, who lives in Nablus. The company oversees dozens of projects throughout the Middle East.

Munib al-Masri is said to be the world's richest Palestinian (photo credit: Raphael Ahren/The Times of Israel)
Munib al-Masri (photo credit: Raphael Ahren/The Times of Israel)

Besides its ambitious tourism project, it is clear that the PA has made significant efforts to settle the area around Jericho in the Jordan Valley, in order to establish control of land.

In addition to the Gate of Jericho, the Palestinian Investment Fund, headed by Deputy PA Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa, has laid out plans for a large residential neighborhood in Naiima, close to the city. The neighborhood is called Medinat Qamar, or the city of the moon. The investment fund has now begun planning of a second neighborhood, Medinat Qamar 2.

The intent of the Authority is to strengthen the Palestinian presence in the West Bank, though the only area where Palestinians can build without Israeli approval is around Jericho.

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