Kerry Vows To Help Boost West Bank Economy

Hopes To Booster Chances for Middle East Peace Negotiations

By Reuters

Published April 09, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday he had agreed to work with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to boost economic growth in the occupied West Bank as he seeks ways to revive Middle East peace talks.

Speaking after a three-day visit to the region, during which he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Kerry told reporters he would provide full details of the economic plans next week.

“We agreed among us … that we are going to engage in new efforts, very specific efforts, to promote economic development … and to remove some of the bottlenecks and barriers that exist with respect to commerce in the West Bank,” he said.

“We intend to try to create the conditions for peace so that we can resume negotiations between the parties in a clear and precise, predetermined manner,” he said at Tel Aviv airport.

Kerry, who flew on to London for a meeting of G8 foreign ministers, was on his third visit to the region in less than three weeks, a mediation effort spurred by U.S. President Barack Obama’s trip to Israel and the West Bank last month.

But neither man has put forward any new initiative to encourage a return to negotiations that collapsed in 2010 in a dispute over Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank, which Palestinians fear will deny them a viable state.

“GREATER CONFIDENCE”

“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.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.