Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is leading the construction of a luxurious presidential palace near Ramallah at a cost of $13 million, despite the PA being mired in a debilitating financial crisis.
“The goal of this project is to establish the Presidential Guest Palace in Surda, Ramallah within an area of 4,700m2, along with a building for the Presidential Administration and Guards with an area of 4,000m2, the construction process includes also preparing the surrounding area and two helipads, the project will be constructed over a land area of 27,000m2,” says a statement on the website of PECDAR, the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction.
A computer-generated simulation image of the 27-dunam (6.67-acre) presidential compound looks luxurious indeed.
The PECDAR statement notes that the new Surda complex is “self-financing –- Ministry of Economy,” indicating the Palestinian Authority’s treasury.
Over the past year, the PA’s financial woes have worsened. In March, the Palestinian government in the West Bank voted on an emergency budget after countries that pledged to donate to the Palestinians reneged on their promises.
The section on the PECDAR website devoted to “Ongoing and Future Projects” also contains a page about the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, in which whole neighborhoods were devastated during last summer’s war between Israel and the territory’s Hamas rulers.
The construction of the palace also comes amid widespread speculation that Abbas could step down soon.