Israel and the Palestinian Authority will work toward building a railroad for a freight train that would run between the West Bank, Israel and Gaza, Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit said Wednesday during the signing of an agreement to establish a joint Israeli-Palestinian transportation office.
Sheetrit added that the new office would also work toward building a train that would reach the Haifa port.
The minister’s Palestinian counterpart, Saad al-Din Khurma, was also on hand for the signing ceremony, which was held in Jerusalem.
EU Commission Vice-President in charge of Transport Jacques Barrot said the EU would allocate an initial payment of two million euros to help finance the office’s activities.
Sheetrit said the railroad that will connect Israel to the Palestinian Authority would offer people the opportunity to travel without having to wait, sometimes for days on end, at the border crossings.
'Gaza ports will be discussed in the future'
“The economy is the key to peace in the region,” he said. “I hope the Palestinian economy will grow and develop; we can help it in doing so.”
The minister added that the line would eventually be extended to Jordan.
Khurma said Israel must contribute to the renovation of the international airport in Gaza and assist in the opening of a seaport as well.
Sheetrit responded to the Palestinian minister’s remarks by saying, “Everything related to Gaza has nothing to do with me or with the joint office; it has to do with the bilateral agreements between Israel and the PA. The air and sea ports will be discussed in the framework of a future agreement.”
The joint office is expected to advance initiatives regarding the development of new transportation infrastructures between Israel and the PA, improve the transfer of goods, and ease the movement of people as well.
The initial proposals are scheduled to be submitted to the ministers in about three months.