Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres sought to plot out the economic fortunes of the Middle East after Israel pulls out of the Gaza Strip this summer, proposing Monday regional economic cooperation that could include a Club Med tourist resort in Palestinian areas.
"We could convert a settlement into a Club Med," he said.
"We must not wait for the political solution but create economic and social hope" in the region, Peres said at the end of a 45-minute meeting with French President Jacques Chirac in Paris.
"We must help all the countries construct an economic democracy," Peres said, referring to Gaza, Jordan and Israel.
"We must coordinate on the economic front," he added.
'It's not a political delay'
Peres insisted earlier Monday that a possible delay in the planned pullout from the Gaza Strip is not political and would be purely for religious reasons, in order to avoid the Tisha B'Av mourning period.
Speaking on France-2 television, Peres said that the pullout could be "a little delayed as a result of the
"It's not a political delay," he said.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Monday that government ministers would consider pushing back the withdrawal from late July to mid-August as a result of Tisha B'Av