In this ancient land where communities have grown helter-skelter, the future now looks more like well-tended US suburbia: powerful entrepreneurs are planning two built-from-scratch West Bank cities with thousands of homes as well as malls, high-tech call centers and hotels.
The two projects, with a total investment of up to $900 million, are part of ambitious plans to revive the Palestinian economy, as Israelis and Palestinians talk peace again after seven years of violence.
However, hurdles need to be cleared before ground can be broken for the as yet unnamed cities, both to be located about 15 minutes from Ramallah, the West Bank's commercial center and seat of government.
Israel has final say over parts of the projects. During 40 years of Israeli occupation, a new city has never been built in the West Bank. Also, there is no infrastructure yet, like access roads and electricity hookups, and affordable mortgages, an essential marketing requirement, are hard to obtain.
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