Three Palestinian Arab towns in western Samaria that are surrounded by Jewish communities and seemingly “cut off” from the rest of the the Palestinian Authority (PA) are actually doing quite well for themselves, according to a report by the PA-based Safa news agency cited by blogger Elder of Zion.
The towns – Mas-ha, Qarawat Bani Hassan and Biddya, are bordered by Elkana on the west and Barkan on the east, and as the blogger notes, they form “islands of Arab brown among a sea of Jewish blue areas,” in a map provided by the pro-Palestinian B'tselem.
While PA propaganda portrays Jewish settlements as "strangling" Arab towns, the Safa article, in Arabic, actually says that the towns have an amazing zero percent unemployment rate.
The towns' merchants used to do brisk business with Jewish customers, but the great terror war of the 2000s scared off the Jews, and forced them to look for alternative markets. The town leaders decided to re-orient their economy around manufacturing. “Now they are filled with factories making glass, furniture and other goods,” writes Elder of Zion. “This has caused their land prices to increase tenfold, from 10,000 Jordanian dinars per dunam to 100,000 dinars.”
The new factories are reportedly attracting Arabs from all over Judea and Samaria, with workers' wages comparable to those of Arab workers in Jewish communities, at NIS 4000-7000 a month.
And yet, the business leaders of Qarawat Bani Hassan complain that the PA does nothing to help them, while taxing them heavily and treating them with suspicion.
“The story of Mas-ha, Qarawat Bani Hassan and Biddya shows that it isn't settlements that are ruining the economy under PA rule. It is PA rule itself, where jobs are used as political favors and corruption is the norm, where innovation is punished and laziness rewarded,” writes the veteran pro-Israel blogger.