Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is constructing a $13 million palace in the West Bank, despite the country being crippled by financial woes.
The project, titled the Presidential Guest Palace in Surda, Ramallah, is listed as an ongoing project on the official website of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development & Reconstruction (PECDAR). It is due to take two years to complete, though the project's start date is not clear from the website.
The complex will include a 4,700-square-metre guest palace and two helipads, as well as a 4,000-square-metre administrative building. It will be constructed over a total land area of 27,000 square metres. PECDAR said on the website that the project will be financed by the Palestinian Ministry of Finance.
The objectives of PECDAR, as listed on its website, include "coordinating the flow of international assistance for the benefit of the Palestinian people" and "identifying investment projects and other activities to be financed by the donor countries." It is accountable to a Board of Trustees, headed up by President Abbas. Most of the other ongoing projects listed on PECDAR's website are being funded by foreign donors, including a $4.5 million drug warehouse in Nablus being funded by the French government and a $7.2 million judicial court complex in Hebron, funded by the Government of Canada.
PECDAR was not immediately available to comment on the purpose of the palace and how it would benefit Palestinian people.
JTA quotes Haaretz, however, as saying that the palace is being paid for by donations, not the Palestinian Authority.
I find that a bit hard to believe and the PEDCAR page for the palace itself says no such thing (at the moment.)
This is not the most expensive project on the PEDCAR page that is being paid for by the general PA budget. They are also building a $15 million national garden.