Jerusalem – The largest new municipal housing fund in the world was launched in Jerusalem on Sunday, attracting the attention of many foreign investors.
In what is being hailed as a major boost to the city’s housing market, the Palestinian Authority has announced plans to create the $500 million Abu Dahir Construction Fund.
The fund is meant to be used to build 1.6 million new homes and 1.5 million new apartments across the occupied West Bank, in areas including East Jerusalem and East Jerusalem neighborhoods.
The move will be a major milestone for the Palestinian government in its efforts to build the 1.3 million apartments it has been building in the occupied territories since the beginning of its Israeli occupation in 1967.
The funds’ creators, the Abu Dahri Foundation, say it is the largest new fund in history, but analysts say the fund will not succeed in meeting its stated goals.
Israel, which dominates the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, has been pressuring Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to build more housing in areas it controls, including East and West Jerusalem.
The Palestinians have also said they will not fund the construction of housing projects on occupied Palestinian land.
Israel has said the fund is aimed at building housing for Israelis living in the West, and will be used only for construction projects in areas that Israel controls.
While the Abu Dhir Fund’s funding structure is opaque, there is no doubt that the fund has been funded through Israeli taxes, a source close to the Abu dhabi Foundation told The Jerusalem Times on condition of anonymity.
“Abu Dahir is a fund which has been set up under the Palestinian leadership to fund housing for Palestinians living in East Jerusalem,” the source said.
“There is no way that the Palestinian authorities will be able to pay the full amount of the fund, which is already exceeding half a billion dollars.”
The fund was announced at a meeting of the Abu-Dhir Foundation’s board of directors, where leaders from the Palestinian Development Authority (PA) and the Palestinian Construction and Development Association (PDA) attended.
The source said the PDA was invited to join the board of the new fund but did not.
The PA and the PDC are separate entities, but both are funded by the same source of funding.
The PDA and the PA have repeatedly stated they would not finance the construction in areas under their control, and have been pushing for a comprehensive agreement to build new housing for Palestinian residents in the territories.
But analysts said the move to fund the Abu Dhabi-based Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) may have been aimed at pressuring the PA into agreeing to fund more housing for the West.
Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital, has also been involved in the construction and expansion of housing in the region, and has announced its plans to build about 5.7 million new housing units in the coming years.
Last year, the ADIA signed a memorandum of understanding with the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to build around 5.8 million housing units, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.
According to the ADIO’s own figures, the West bank has an average of 2.2 million housing spaces per capita, and East and South Jerusalem has a much higher rate of 2 million housing areas per capita.
The Palestinian Authority’s Abu Dahrim Foundation has said it would not fund new construction projects on the Westbank.
However, the official Palestinian news website Maan said on Sunday that the Abu Dhir Foundation was also planning to fund projects in the East Jerusalem area and in the northern West Bank.
It said it was planning to launch a new fund for construction in East and North Jerusalem, which will focus on providing housing for residents of the Palestinian villages and towns there.
It added that it would fund the projects in East Ramallah, the Gaza strip and the West Jerusalem neighborhoods of East Al-Quds and West Al-Tur.
“This fund will provide housing for some 3.5 to 5 million residents of Palestinian villages in the Gaza region,” the news agency said.
According the Palestinian News Agency, the fund would provide “up to 10% of the value of the housing project.”
The Palestinian news site Al-Monitor reported that the ADI would also fund construction projects and development projects in occupied East Jerusalem, the Israeli-occupied West Bank areas and the Jordan Valley.
In a statement on Sunday evening, Abu Dahiri Foundation chairman Mohamed al-Hassan said the funds will be available to all citizens, regardless of their nationality, and the fund’s funding is in line with the “peace-making goals of the United Nations and its member states, which calls for the creation of new housing and other infrastructure to provide housing and jobs for Palestinians in East, West and North Palestine.”
The funds will help build the building of more housing and construction in these areas, al-Awais said.
Al-Hassi also added that the funds would help rebuild and extend the infrastructure necessary to make housing more affordable for Palestinians and