During a meeting of international donors to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in New York yesterday, Israeli representatives outlined significant steps that are being taken to support the Palestinian economy.
Representatives of the countries who have pledged to give financial support to the PA gathered for a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee. The meeting comes after a World Bank report warned last week of a deepening Palestinian fiscal crisis and after widespread protests in the West Bank against the high cost of living.
Israeli representatives, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, outlined measures taken by Israel to relieve the financial pressure on the PA. These included the advanced transfer of NIS 380 million in taxes – customs revenues collected by Israel on the PA’s behalf – to enable the PA to pay the salaries of civil servants.
The Israeli delegation also announced that an extra 5,000 permits have been granted for West Bank Palestinians to work in Israel, with an additional 2,000 given overnight permits. The Israeli representatives estimated that over 100,000 Palestinians are earning their livelihoods directly from Israel, receiving salaries that are typically double those in the West Bank. Israel also reported that it had approved more than 300 Palestinian development projects in Area C – the part of the West Bank under full Israeli control – and that it was making progress with new master plans for Area C. Development in Area C is regarded as important by the international community for the future economic development of the Palestinian Authority.
Dangot further announced that Israel has permitted the entry of significant quantities of building materials to Hamas-controlled Gaza. He said that they would be sufficient to complete 16 educational, residential and infrastructure projects which have the backing of international funds.
In a related development, Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced ‘initial negotiations’ with the PA, over ‘Development of the Gaza Marine gas field’, which ‘will generate revenues that could contribute dramatically to Palestinian fiscal sustainability.’
To read Israel’s full report to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee click here.