Middle East

Palestinians rule out concessions for economic gain

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, center, Israeli President Shimon Peres, right, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas all shake hands during the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa at the King Hussein Convention Centre at the Dead Sea in Jordan Sunday May 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Pool, Jim Young)

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: The Palestinian presidency said on Monday that it would not make "political concessions in exchange for economic benefits" announced the day before by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

"The Palestinian leadership will not offer political concessions in exchange for economic benefits," read a statement from Mohammad Mustafa, president of the Palestine Investment Fund and economic adviser to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

"We will not accept that the economy is the primary and sole component," the statement said.

"We wish it to be part of a political framework that will ensure the creation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem its capital and the rights of refugees and a reference to a political solution -- these are the priorities," the text read.

"President Mahmud Abbas calls on investors to come to Palestine, especially taking into account the fact that Palestine is a positive investment experience in many different areas," said Mustafa.

Kerry on Sunday at the closing session of the World Economic Forum in Jordan unveiled a plan to boost the Palestinian economy by attracting $4 billion in private investment.

He charged Tony Blair, the Quartet's special envoy to the Middle East, with drawing up the details of the initiative.

A statement from Blair's office said it was "analysing the potential of various sectors of the Palestinian economy and identifying measures that could be taken to spur transformative economic growth".

It said the goal was to boost "GDP by 50 percent within three years and reduce unemployment from 22 percent to single-digit figures".

However, Blair's office stressed that "the plan will complement, support and run in parallel with a renewed political process, and is not intended to replace that political process".

The Palestinian leadership wants a total freeze on Israeli settlement construction before it resumes peace talks with Israel, which have been stalled for almost three years.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects such a "precondition" and is calling for an immediate resumption of talks, while at the same time recently suspending tenders for construction in the West Bank.





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