JERUSALEM – Just one week after the Palestinian Authority entered into a unity government with Hamas, the U.S. announced the continuation of a $100 million, five-year program to construct “environmentally and socially sustainable” buildings for the Palestinians.
The website for the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem posted the plans, which include a community center and school to be built to meet “stringent third-party-verified ‘green’ certification standards.”
Already, the U.S. Agency for International Development, which is funding the projects, has constructed the Safeer Center, a West Bank child care program, one of the first of the U.S.-funded Palestinian “green” buildings to open.
“Its energy-efficient insulation (visible through a small cutout), rainwater collection system and temperature-regulating window shades provide a healthy facility for more than 3,000 children,” boasts the U.S. consulate site.
“These and others provide models for efficiency in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where the mostly imported energy is expensive,” the site added.
The consulate website reported that the Obama administration’s “green” initiative in the Palestinian-inhabited neighborhoods was at first met with some skepticism by the local population.
States the site: “At first, some occupants question maintenance costs, but ‘green’ technology often uses simple systems and sometimes forgotten designs, such as Middle Eastern courtyards, which provide natural ventilation. Made of local materials, the buildings create jobs and healthier communities.”
The U.S. government announcement referred to the West Bank and Gaza as “Palestinian Territories,” even though both are officially disputed territories under international law.
The West Bank represents the Jewish biblical heartland. It contains important Jewish religious sites as well as ancient Jewish communities such as Beit El and Hebron, the oldest Jewish community in the world.
The U.S. “green” program was initiated in 2010. Yesterday’s announcement of the continuation of U.S. finding for the project follows the signing of a unity deal between the Hamas and Fatah factions.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas, of Fatah, will serve for the time being as both president and prime minister while the unity government prepares for fresh elections later this year.
The deal also paves the way for Hamas’ so-called security forces to be paid via a PA salary. The U.S. is the largest donor to the PA.
Days after the unity deal was signed, Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the Palestinian movement in Gaza, announced during a trip to Iran that Hamas would never acknowledge the Israeli state or give up its “resistance” operations.
“They (West) want from us to stop resistance and acknowledge Israel, but I herewith announce that this will never happen,” Haniyeh said though an interpreter at a ceremony marking the 33rd anniversary of the 1979 Iranian revolution.
“Our message and the message of all those who lost their blood in the Palestinian lands is that all occupied lands will eventually be liberated from Israeli occupation,” Haniyeh said.
He thanked Iran for its constant support for Palestinian resistance groups and called for maintaining unity in the Islamic world.