Israel’s environment minister – supporter of Jewish settlements in Samaria – Gilad Erdan told Israel’s army radio it was “a mistake” for Israel to allow the Palestinians to build a city called Rawabi, north of Ramallah for “green” concerns.

And no – that is not envy.

The Palestinians, according to Erdan, have no proper plans for managing sewage or other waste generated from the city, that will house some 40,000 people at a cost of $700m.

Bashar al-Masri, head of the Bayti Real Estate Investment Co, that is jointly running the Rawabi project, said that AFP US-funded plans for a sewage and waste water treatment plant were well under way – to the contrary of Erdan’s accusations.

“The environment is very important to us and we are coordinating with the Americans over the sewage issue,”

He said, adding specifically that three US companies were competing over a contract for a waste water treatment plant serving Rawabi and the surrounding villages.

“Rawabi is well planned and we are ready for any investigation into what we do.”

Erdan said,

“At a political level, I don’t like the idea (that they are building) in territories over which there is a dispute about ownership and sovereignty,”

Continuing that

“on one hand, they are building thousands of housing units, while on the other side, every stone that is moved creates a scandal.”

“But let’s put that to one side,”

Erdan said, attempting not to mix politics with environmental issues,

“I have turned to the defense minister (Ehud Barak) and the civil administration and said: ‘OK, this train has already got under way, and this city will be built but let’s demand at the very least that it doesn’t damage the environment…”.

The civil administration is a military body of the Jewish country which runs civilian affairs in Samaria.

While Rawabi is being built in Area A, which is governed by the Palestinian Authority, the roads joining it to Ramallah and the surrounding area run through Area C, which is under complete Israeli military control.

Work on the project began in January and is being carried out by the Bayti Real Estate Investment Company and Qatar’s Diar Real Estate Company.