A new Israeli-Palestinian venture is set to open its doors in the occupied West Bank on Monday.
The Jerusalem District Council on Monday approved plans to build a 1,200-hectare, $6 million “biotech park” that will include a “biotechnology laboratory” and a research facility that will develop technologies for a “green” and “smart” mining industry.
The proposal was put forward by the Jerusalem District, which oversees the Green Line and is home to most of the settlement blocs in the West Bank.
The project, which will include up to 200,000 dunams (9.4 acres) of agricultural land, will include an industrial processing and distribution center and a processing and recycling facility for raw materials for biotechnology.
The plan will also provide access to the Green River for mining and other projects.
The Palestinian Authority, which governs the West, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In recent years, the Israeli government has built more than 1,100 new settlement bloc houses, and the West bank has seen a rise in the number of Palestinian families with children who move there.
Palestinians claim the West’s 1.8 million settlers are illegal and a threat to their existence and have called for the establishment of Palestinian statehood.
Israel rejects the claims, calling them “settler propaganda.”
Israel says it wants to build the park in anticipation of the West-Israeli border fence being completed in a year or so.
The Palestinians have long been critical of the fence, but in recent months they have been pushing for the fence to be built and for construction to be stopped in order to allow the creation of Palestinian communities.
The announcement comes just two days after the Palestinian Authority signed a deal with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) that would allow Israeli settlers to use land under the West Wall and nearby Jewish settlements in order for them to build illegal housing and a green space.