Rawabi in June 2013. (Wikipedia)
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When Bashar Masri wants a sense of the ebb and flow of Israeli-Palestinian relations, he has two options: He can glance out the window or check his bank statement.While violence in the West Bank and war in Gaza have halted construction on several occasions, the goal is to create something that's "occupation-proof," says Masri, 56, a scion of a wealthy Palestinian family. He estimates his investors will sustain a $100 million loss if there's no progress toward peace but could turn a profit if the two sides reach a resolution. Today, dozens of stone-clad four- to nine-story buildings spill down an arid hillside. The clustered, fortresslike construction resembles some of the 120 settlements Israel has built across the West Bank in defiance of United Nations resolutions calling them a violation of international law. Roughly 3,000 people have moved to Rawabi since late 2015; Masri expects the population to ultimately reach 40,000, with more than 3,000 jobs.Masri has had similar difficulties promoting Rawabi as a tech center.At least one Israeli tech company, though, has said it would open an office in Rawabi, and Masri says he's negotiating with others.Masri lays much of the blame for the delays and cost overruns at the feet of Israel's military administration of the West Bank – land Israel says it can build on pending a peace agreement.
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