Shalom with Khoury in Jerusalem
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin

Palestinian minister downplays meeting with Shalom

PA minister says meeting with Silvan Shalom on economic peace 'had no political significance'

The Palestinian minister for national economy said his meeting with Minister for Regional Development Silvan Shalom on Wednesday "had no political significance".


In a statement published by his office Wednesday evening Bassem Khoury said, "It was a regular technical meeting, as part of the joint economic committee. The meeting was intended to discuss the Israeli violations of commitments derived from economic settlements."


The Palestinian minister explained that "the meeting has no political significance and does not express a change in the authority's stance, by which there will be no negotiations until Israel fulfills its obligations derived from the Road Map, which include a complete halt in all settlement activity, especially in Jerusalem".


Khoury also rejected Israel's efforts to relate the meeting to government endeavors at achieving what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has termed "economic peace".


"The authority rejects all Israeli efforts at circumventing its obligations, primarily stopping settlements and lifting the siege on Gaza as a preliminary step towards a serious political process that will bring an end to the occupation and establish a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and the 1967 borders," the statement said.


Despite the harsh words, Shalom and Khoury have agreed to meet once every month to six weeks and to establish joint teams to work together on a daily basis on such issues as providing businessmen with visas, the exportation of meat to the West Bank, importation of milk products from the West Bank to Israel, and medical care for Palestinians in Israel.


Minister Shalom called the meeting "positive" and said his objective had been to advance the removal of bureaucratic hurdles, based on the concept of economic peace between the two parties.


Shalom and Khoury also discussed the industrial zone in Jenin, the Christian pilgrimage site Qasr al-Yahud on the Jordan River, and other joint projects.


"I am glad that the Palestinians have realized that boycotting meetings with Israel and its government are harmful first and foremost to them," Shalom said before the meeting.


"I have said in the past that our goal is to achieve economic peace and this does not prevent political dialogue, but helps it," he added.


פרסום ראשון: 09.02.09, 22:41
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