THE FUTURE national library in Ramallah..
(photo credit: PEDCAR)
The PA has announced that a multi-million dollar presidential palace, which has been under construction for the past five years on the outskirts of Ramallah, will be turned into a national library.
The Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR) Chairman Muhammad Shtayyeh said on Sunday that the lavish structure was originally intended to serve as a residence for the PA president, and a place to host foreign dignitaries and guests. But President Mahmoud Abbas decided to turn the facility into a national library to benefit the general public. PECDAR is the Palestinian institution that was tasked with building the palace project at a cost of $13 million.
When the presidential palace was first formally announced two years ago, it came under fire on social media with critics questioning the PA’s decision to spend millions on a presidential palace while other parts of the government are in need of funds.
PA officials, however, defended the palace project, saying it did not violate any laws.
“The existence of such a palace is legal in all countries of the world,” Haitham Daraghmeh, the general director of planning and political studies in the Palestinian Legislative Council, told Middle East Eye in 2015.
It is unclear when the building will be open to the public and which resources it will offer.
Shtayyeh declined to comment on the matter. Culture Minister Ihab Bseiso did not respond to several phone calls.
Jihad Harb, a political researcher and analyst, said national libraries “are considered symbols of the Middle Eastern state.”
“I think Abbas decided to take one symbol of the Middle Eastern state, a presidential palace, and replace it with another symbol of the Middle Eastern state, a national library,” Harb said.
Municipalities and universities currently administer most libraries in the Palestinian territories, according to Harb.