The Jericho Gate Project: Planning Challenges and Political Struggles around a Megaproject in the Oldest City in the World

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Starting from 1993, after decades of occupation and political conflicts, the Palestinians enjoy some form of local self-government in areas of the West Bank (areas "A"), through elected bodies like municipal councils and the National Government. Those young institutions that are in charge of urban planning, have to deal with a highly complicated set of challenges, with a very modest experience and a legacy of old and inadequate laws. In Jericho, a heritage-rich town in the Jordan Valley, the Palestinian company PADICO has recently proposed a leisureoriented, multi-billionaire, 300 HA mega-project, called Jericho Gate (JG), including tourist and entertainment facilities, villas, hotels, resorts, a sports city, amusement and water parks, malls and other facilities. JG follows a national and regional trends of privately financed new cities that is common in the region (i.e.Rawabi), that are marketed as development and job creators, and as a tool to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians who are struggling for an independent and sovereign country. In this study we will explore and analyze how that project has been received by the different actors, in particular, the local and national government and the local public opinion, how it was presented to the population through the media and how it was debated and finally approved by the official bodies. Despite its glittering architectural envelop and its promise of economic development, the JG project arises a number of questions about the capacity of the local context to benefit from it. Will the municipality, weakened under the state of occupation, be able to handle the needs of the new temporary residents, given its modest resources and capabilities? Will this upper-class oriented project increase socio-spatial fragmentation between wealthy visitors and the local population?
Mega Project, Conflict area, Planning challenges, Jericho- Palestine