The mall, due to be finished in about a year, sits at the tip of north-eastern Jerusalem in the Atarot neighbourhood, located in eye-shot of Ramallah and separated from the West Bank security barrier only by a thin road. In total, Levy says, the mall will serve 120,000 Arab and 90,000 Jewish Jerusalemites, plus the tens of thousands of Palestinians streaming daily into the capital from the West Bank for work and pleasure.
The idea for the mall, Levy said, comes from his existing shopping centres and supermarkets in the West Bank, which have become unexpected points of friendly interaction between Jews and Arabs looking for jobs and the cheapest prices.
Levy believes that Arab and Jews are destined to live together and concludes that they must do what they can to make the best of the situation “and serve each other as best as possible”.
Levy affirms that this project can serve as a blueprint to demonstrate “that we can do everything together”.
He states: “Palestinians and Jews will work together, make their living together and Palestinians will have stores here”.
Despite the fact that one of the biggest Palestinian wholesalers of electronics backed out of renting a shop due to “political reasons”. The owner the super market chain with a revenues of NIS 1.14 billion is still convinced that “People really believe in this place”.
Though Levy’s stores have become sites of rare coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank, they have also seen several lethal attacks by Palestinians over the years.
In response to the likelihood of security issues he replied “as long as I live here, I want to live in peace. If they decide two states, how do they say in Arabic: ahala u sahala [welcome]”.