Mar 04 2013

NBC: A $1 billion bet on peace: Qatar funds huge Palestinian settlement in West Bank

RAWABI, West Bank — As gambles go, it hardly gets bigger: A $1 billion dollar bet on peace — or at least a measure of calm — in the West Bank.

Even the founder of Rawabi, the biggest construction project in the history of the Palestinian people, says nobody in his right mind would invest here.

Standing on a wind-swept hilltop overlooking the biblical hills of Judea, a half-hour drive from Ramallah, Bashar Al-Masri points to the Palestinian flags flying atop the giant cranes that are building, with phenomenal speed, the first modern Palestinian town.

“As a teenager, raising the Palestinian flag was enough to be shot and killed,” he says, immaculate in a form-hugging, thin-lapelled dark suit and narrow burgundy tie.

“This is a small, symbolic way of how long we came along, and how much we will come along in the future,” adds Al-Masri, who as a teenager threw stones at Israeli soldiers.

The largest flag is mounted on a pole facing the Jewish settlement of Atteret, a community of about a hundred families located across a small valley.

The flag is a deliberate statement.

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