Blair Announces Major Projects to Help Boost Palestinian Economy
Macintyre, Donald, The Independent (London, England)
Tony Blair has unveiled four economic projects which he said could create thousands of Palestinian jobs in his first specific policy announcement as the international community's Middle East envoy.
He said at a joint news conference with the Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and the emergency Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad that the projects had been "greenlight-ed" by both sides and could be the start of a wider move to stimulate the stricken Palestinian economy if a peace process is sustained.
The projects include a sewage treatment project in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza, to replace a plant that was destroyed when an embankment collapsed in March, killing five Palestinians. Mr Blair said vital components had already been imported into Gaza, which is facing a complete commercial shut-down because of the closure of the Karni cargo crossing.
Other projects include an agro-industrial park in the Jordan valley around Jericho backed by Japan and a new industrial zone close to the Tarqumia crossing between the southern West Bank and Israel which is sponsored by Turkey. Mr Blair said the passage of goods from the agro-industrial park to the Allenby Bridge into Jordan had already been arranged. …