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Bank of Israel Chief: Peace Could Boost Economy

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer said Sunday that the country could expect an economic growth in the range of 7 percent should a peace agreement be signed with the Palestinians.

The difference would be evident in the amount Israel needs to invest in security, Fischer told delegates to the Herzliya Conference. The last five years has seen economic growth of up to 5 percent, said Fischer. “So with peace agreements and conditions, we could have a growth of more like 6 or 7 percent,” said Fischer.

National Security Adviser Uzi Arad told delegates to the conference earlier Sunday that the Palestinian Authority’s “policy of refusal” was to blamed for stalled peace negotiations.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was “once too strong, once too weak, once is waiting for elections, other times he’s moody, and at a different time he’s waiting for an Arab League conference,” Arad said.

“The reasons may change but the Palestinian policy of refusal continues, refusal to negotiate. It’s very disappointing,” said Arad, warning that such reluctance “will become a problem for the Palestinians.”

Nevertheless, Arad said such a stalemate could be overcome and negotiations may well resume.

Arad also lambasted Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for supporting a boycott of Israeli products made in West Bank settlements. Fayyad is set to address the conference on Tuesday alongside Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

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