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Sunday, August 03, 2008

The beginning… or the end?

As many of you know, I have the privilege of driving to and from work each day along a route that is mentioned prominently in the Bible. Today this road is called Route 60... but it is still known along its entire length (from Beer Sheva to Jerusalem) for the holy city that sits at its approximate mid-point; "Derech Hevron" (the Hevron way)

This ancient road is the route along which Abraham set out from Beer Sheva in order to sacrifice his son Isaac on what would one day become Jerusalem's Temple mount. It is also the route along which the Jews were led into captivity after the destruction of the Temple (which, according to Rashi, is why the Matriarch Rachel was buried along the side of this road; so that she could comfort the Jews as they were lead into exile with promises of an eventual return).

Over the years this road has undergone many changes – both small and large. But over the past few years Route 60 (at least the part that cuts through the South Hevron Hills) has been undergoing a complete make-over. The Israeli government has been investing heavily in the modernization of this road by blasting through hills to straighten, widen and level its path. And they've been laying a silky-smooth road surface that rivals even the new national mega-project 'Road 6' (Derech Eretz).

The thing that puzzles me is that the entire stretch of Derech Hevron that has been getting this fantastic make-over runs through a region that nearly everyone in the current government is talking about giving away!

I'm not complaining, mind you. I love being able to spare my car the pot holes and hair-pin turns of the old road. But why would a cash-strapped Israeli government, which pleads poverty in the face of pretty much every spending request, be lavishing such an extravagant infrastructure upgrade on a section of road that they can't wait to give away?

Is this a case of one part of the government not knowing what the other is doing… or is this some sort of incredibly generous house-warming gift they are planning on giving to the new Palestinian state?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Posted by David Bogner on August 3, 2008 | Permalink

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I don't know about Route 60, but do you remember the old Latrun road?

http://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%9B%D7%91%D7%99%D7%A9_3
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highway_3_(Israel)

I spent a lot of time in the early 90s in the Kiryat Malachi area, and the road to Jerusalem from there was one of the twistiest roads in the country. Throughout the 90s, the road (Road 3) was fixed up and now is once of the nicest ones.

I was told that the reason the road is so nice is that the Americans wanted it to be the "safe passage" between Gaza and Ramallah. So maybe something similar is happening here?

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Aug 3, 2008 2:10:38 PM

no it's a case of a "bulldozer" in the government, with a road and interchange fetish, who found a place to indulge himself and get away with it(hint he's known as Fu'ad)

Posted by: asher | Aug 3, 2008 2:18:49 PM

no it's a case of a "bulldozer" in the government, with a road and interchange fetish, who found a place to indulge himself and get away with it(hint he's known as Fu'ad)

Posted by: asher | Aug 3, 2008 2:19:54 PM

Hmmmm...wonder who in the Knesset has relatives in the construction business?

Posted by: effi | Aug 3, 2008 3:54:32 PM

Trep - no other aspect of "land for peace" has ever made sense before. Why start now?

Posted by: psachya | Aug 3, 2008 4:53:40 PM

Hopefully it is a silent way of Israel saying, no we will not give our land away... hey a guy can dream right?

Posted by: Seth Levy | Aug 3, 2008 5:23:23 PM

Is this a case of one part of the government not knowing what the other is doing

I'm guessing that's it. Reminds me how a few weeks before the expulsion from Gaza they started building a fence along the road to Gush Katif. That also prompted some head-scratching and conspiracy theories. I really hope this is not an analogous situation.

They have also been investing a lot of money in improving the Jerusalem-Jericho road and road 90 in the northern Bekaa.

Posted by: avis | Aug 3, 2008 5:23:39 PM

Hopefully it is a silent way of Israel saying, no we will not give our land away... hey a guy can dream right?

Based on this government's action I'd say that dream is the appropriate response, but I hope I am wrong.

Posted by: Jack | Aug 3, 2008 5:44:59 PM

I have a better question. We live in a settlement that is half way between Jerusalem and Jericho. The goverment has invested tons of money to turn the road between the Good Samaritan and the Almog junction into a major 4 lane highway. THis project has included blasting away hillsides and building bridges so the road will be smooth through very difficult terrain. Now the entire area that was renovated is outside the area where the wall will be. Meaning the goverment is building the PA a pretty nifty road.

Posted by: arielag | Aug 3, 2008 6:38:02 PM

Javier Solana must have some pretty nifty answers to your question.

Posted by: Rami | Aug 3, 2008 8:09:00 PM

About the road--no idea. However, a more burning question: between honey-packing till 2 am and getting up at 5-whatever, when in the world did you write this?!

The honey has been packed away for R"H--if we opened it now it would not last the week. And Barak is feeling positively bereft (about Yonah, not the honey, which he doesn't know about). We were hardly out the door when he started asking me where Yonah was, why he wasn't coming with us, and when he was going to play with him some more. Fortunately, the concept of "two years" is vague enough for him that he was satisfied by the answer...

Posted by: uberimma | Aug 3, 2008 11:36:50 PM

Check the blueprints -- maybe, with luck, they are building in some giant pop-up steel walls and other Wile E. Coyote traps just to mess with the anti-Israeli crowd, should the land be given away? And those tunnels in the hillsides -- has anyone checked to see whether or not they are just painted on? ;o/

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Aug 4, 2008 6:50:14 AM

Great question - would be really intersting to hear the answer. One thing is for sure that both David and I noticed, looks are deceiving, because if we didn't know better, we would have thought we were completely safe driving in that area. It seems very peaceful and actually no difference than anywhere else in the country. Though it didn't help to hear Zahava tell us that no matter, don't stop until we get through the checkpoint.

Posted by: jaime | Aug 4, 2008 8:33:11 AM

Is this a case of one part of the government not knowing what the other is doing… or is this some sort of incredibly generous house-warming gift they are planning on giving to the new Palestinian state?

YES

Posted by: Rivka with a capital A | Aug 4, 2008 9:37:02 PM

Politics: Appeasers see the new road as buying more good will from your enemies when the improved property is deeded to them. Those who oppose giving away land see all capital investment as a hedge against such concessions. So it seems everyone (for the time being) agrees on this.

Posted by: Bob | Aug 5, 2008 5:16:06 AM

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