WEST BANK: Israel bulldozes Fayyad’s Freedom Road
On Sept. 1, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad celebrated with the residents of Qarawat Bani Hassan the inauguration of a mile-long road linking the small West Bank village to a spring its residents consider the lifeline of the community. It was called Freedom Road.
While Fayyad was on a trip to Japan this week, hoping to get more funding for his two-year “Palestine: Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State” program, of which building that road was one project, Israel on Wednesday destroyed the road, which is located in Area C of the West Bank.
According to the Oslo breakdown of the West Bank, Area C, which makes up more than 60% of the West Bank land, remains under full Israeli military control. But Area C is also an important segment in Fayyad’s state building program, crucial to his dream of setting up the necessary infrastructure for a viable Palestinian state by August 2011.
Israeli officials had informed Fayyad and the village residents that they would not allow the road because it was located in an area under its full control.
According to the village mayor, the Israeli army tried to stop construction on the $335,000 road, paid for by the Palestinian Authority, several times. But they continued with the project, and when the road was completed, Israeli officials informed the mayor two days before the inauguration that he had one week to destroy the road or the army would be sent in to do so.
But Fayyad snubbed the Israeli threat and proceeded with the official inauguration ceremonies.
Israel did not act until about three months later, when Fayyad was abroad, and bulldozers were sent in.
Fayyad on Thursday took time off from his busy schedule in Japan to denounce the Israeli step as “an act of sabotage.” He said, “Israel’s destruction of Freedom Road in Qarawat Bani Hassan will only strengthen the will of our people to continue on the road to freedom.” He vowed to rebuild the road.
The spring, to which the road was built, is located near an illegal Israeli settlement outpost called Havat Meir.
-- Maher Abukhater in Ramallah, West Bank
Photo: Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, center, with a placard announcing the inauguration of Freedom Road. Credit: Mustafa Abu Dayya / office of Prime Minister Fayyad