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“Economic growth will help us to be able to provide a climate, if you will, an atmosphere with in which people have greater confidence about moving forward,” Kerry said.
“But I want to emphasise, and I emphasise this very strongly, this is not in lieu of or an alternative to the political track. It is not a substitute. The political track remains the primary focus.”
A World Bank report published last month said that Israel’s West Bank checkpoints and restrictions inflicted long-term damage on Palestinians’ ability to compete in the global market.
Israel cites security concerns for those restrictions in the territory, which it captured along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians seek to establish a state in those areas.
“With respect to the economic plans … I will be very specific next week,” Kerry said. “We will have a Washington meeting and you all will have a chance to see this fleshed out in full.”
With Kerry at his side before talks earlier in the day in Jerusalem, Netanyahu told reporters that Israel wanted to “make a serious effort” to end the conflict with the Palestinians.
“This has economic components, and we welcome any initiatives that you and others will bring forward in this regard,” Netanyahu said.
“But it also has a political component, political discussions that will address a myriad of issues. Foremost in our minds are questions of recognition and security,” he said.
Netanyahu was referring to his demand that Palestinians recognise Israel as the Jewish state, a step they fear could compromise any right of return of Palestinian refugees, as well as harming the status of Israel’s 20 percent Arab minority.
Nabil Abu Rdeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said any efforts to bring about economic improvement must occur in tandem with political moves.
“Palestinian economic development is important - we have plans on how to achieve it - but this isn’t an alternative to the political track,” Abu Rdeineh said.