Palestinians to implement new economic plan
A senior Palestinian official said on Wednesday that a comprehensive economic plan aimed at recovering the Palestinian economy has been ratified and will soon be implemented.
The plan was overwhelmingly supported by the international donors and will be carried out in two phases, Mohamed Mustafa, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) deputy prime minister and aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for economic policy, told Xinhua.
"The plan basically aims at achieving a comprehensive Palestinian economical growth and development in parallel with a significant progress in the peace talks with Israel," said Mustafa.
The Palestinian territories, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been suffering from increasing rates of poverty and unemployment. The plan also aims at reducing these rates, he said.
"It is a comprehensive development plan that contains two phases. The first one includes small projects for infrastructure, agriculture and public services in order to create job opportunities and refresh the action of private sector's companies, " said Mustafa, adding that about 150 million U.S. dollars would be needed for the first phase.
According to Mustafa, the first nine-month period will kick off in three weeks, when about 350 small-scale projects will be carried out to reinvigorate the economy.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was the master of the economy plan, which will cost the international community and the United states around 4 billion dollars to back and recover the deteriorating Palestinian economy together with achieving peace between the Palestinians and Israel.
"The second phase of Kerry's plan will focus on a long-run economic plan with strategic dimensions," said Mustafa, adding that plans will be drawn up to back eight various sectors, including housing, construction, agriculture, tourism, communications, data technology, energy, water and light industry.
Palestinian officials insisted on many occasions that the success of any economic plans to refresh the Palestinian economy would require lifting the Israeli measures imposed on Palestinian commercial crossings to allow the free movement of goods and individuals in the West Bank and Gaza.
"The PNA had asked the international community to pressure on Israel to relax all these measures in order to back the Palestinian economy," said Mustafa, adding "We really want to see a serious change in the manner and the way of the Israelis thinking towards the Palestinians and their economy."
Mustafa said the U.S. had expressed willingness to ensure the success of the economic plan, mainly by urging Israel to relax its measures imposed on Palestinian crossings.
The ratification of the plan comes three months after Israel and the Palestinians resumed their direct peace talks after a hiatus of three years. However, the talks, brokered by the United States, have so far made no significant progress.