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- About the Authors
Proposed Highway through the Jordan Valley Will Backfire on Israel
September 25, 2013
We have seen reports of a new proposed Israeli road from Gush Etzion to the Dead Sea. Though ostensibly meant to foster tourism, it would, if built, extend the web of settlements to bisect the future state of Palestine. Some regard it as such an affront to the peace process that it could derail the peace talks.
Palestinians should keep a cool head. This road will be seen internationally as an egregious sign of Israeli bad faith that will only backfire on Israel. European pressure is already growing. This sort of action may even result in removing the American blanket of protection.
In any final status agreement, this road will become part of Palestine. Any hotels and factories that might be built along it will be Palestinian hotels and factories. The road could become a golden goose for Palestine, providing a boon to Palestine's share of the tourist trade by providing a route from Bethlehem to the Dead Sea entirely within the future state of Palestine. In the future, the route could be a nexus of Palestinian-Israeli economic cooperation as tourism companies offer comprehensive travel packages through both countries. Imagine in the more distant future when cruise ships dock at an improved port of Gaza and buses bring their passengers down this road on excursions to the Dead Sea.
Nevertheless, the route also passes through a pristine wilderness area, and just as Israeli environmentalists are raising objections, we believe Palestinian environmentalists also should be given their say about whether the road is even built. Palestine, which hosts numerous World Heritage sites, has a growing sense of responsibility for the land as its patrimony.
We should not allow acts of greed and provocation to derail the peace talks. The road is not an obstacle to peace, but only a sign of Israel's lack of resolve to bring it to pass. The world will see it as such, and Israel will be the one to face the consequences.
Example of dislocation when an Israeli highway runs through Palestinian land: the wall next to the highway bulges out to accommodate a settlement, taking over formerly Palestinian farmland. (Photo looking north from Nebi Samuel)