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Sunday, February 6, 2011
PM Netanyahu and Quartet Representative Blair met and agreed to a package of economic steps designed to assist the Palestinian Authority

[IMRA: While the measures were welcomed by the Quartet they were apparently
rejected by Mahmoud Abbas]

PM Netanyahu and Quartet Representative Blair met and agreed to a package of
economic steps designed to assist the Palestinian Authority
PMO 04/02/2011

Statement by PM Netanyahu:

Tony, I’m delighted to have this opportunity to advance our common goals.
We’ve had a series of meetings and we’re concluding with the announcement of
several steps that we take to, first of all to enhance stability. I think
people understand that stability is important at all times, but it’s
especially important now and the first set of steps that we’re taking are to
continue the policy we’ve advanced to enable economic growth in the
Palestinian areas. I think this has contributed to stability; it’s
contributed to a better life for the Palestinians and I think it’s
contributing to peace and security in the long term. So we are announcing a
series of steps for the Palestinian areas that I think will make that
economic prosperity and living standards rise and I think that’s important.

Well, the second set of steps are intended to make Gaza independent of
Israeli infrastructure by helping to develop their electricity plants;
water, sewerage treatment. I think this is important. There are significant
international projects that we want to advance. We talked about the ways to
do it in specific concrete terms.

And the third set of steps is aimed at diversifying gas supplies in the
future. Israel has of course its own gas supplies down the line in the close
of the decade, but we have interim gas needs. Most of our supply today is
coming from Egypt. It’s important for us to develop additional resources
but it’s also important for the Palestinians. There’s a Palestinian
Authority gas field adjacent to an Israeli gas field. We need to develop
both simultaneously. This is something that the Palestinian Authority
expressed interest in.I think we’re going to begin discussions and
negotiations to facilitate both, where the revenues from the Palestinian
field go to the Palestinian Authority and the revenues from the Israeli
field go to the Israeli government and I think this is good for stability,
good for prosperity and good for peace. I don’t delude myself for a second
that an economic peace is a substitute for political peace. We need both
and I hope that Abu Mazen will heed my call and enter direct negotiations
with us. And one of the things that I think people can appreciate today is
the importance we attach to the security arrangements on the ground because
as recent events have shown us, the peace agreement has to take into account
not only the situation that is present today, but the situation that could
unfold tomorrow.

So I look forward to resuming these negotiations with the Palestinians for
the benefit of both our peoples, and for the peace in the region.

Statement by Quartet Representative Blair:

Even against the background of events in the region and the absence of
direct political negotiations, it isimportant we continue to do all we can
to improve the conditions and living standards of the Palestinian people.
Indeed it is now especially important.

I am pleased at the package of measures agreed today with the Government of
Israel.

I thank the Prime Minister for his personal involvement in and support for
these measures. The discussions we have been having go back several months.
This is my seventh visit to the region in as many weeks. On each occasion
the Prime Minister has been generous with his time and determined to move
this agenda forward.

The package breaks into three parts:

First, a comprehensive set of changes in Gaza, building on those approved in
June 2010. The most important is a long-standing request of the Palestinian
Authority and President Abu Mazen for an agreement to revive discussions on
the vital project of ‘Gaza Marine’ gas field, with approval in principle of
the supply of Palestinian offshore gas to Gaza power plants and specific
project approval to a new power station there. Clearly there are many items
to be worked out but this is an important breakthrough for the Palestinian
Authority, people in Gaza and the broader region.

In addition, there is agreement to mobile desalination plants to meet Gaza’s
needs for clean water; and approval in principle for a larger permanent
desalination plant.

There is also full approval for all the sanitation and water treatment
plants necessary for Gaza, with the Government of Israel agreeing to
facilitate and support the entry of construction materials to enable
projects to be completed on schedule. There are further measures to promote
Gaza exports, especially in furniture and textiles as well as agriculture.

A further 20 named construction projects will be approved. We aim to begin a
pilot project for private sector construction materials by 1 April; and in
February the Government of Israel will transfer around 40,000 tons of
aggregates from Sufa/Karni into Gaza.

The combination of these measures should result, over time, in a radical
overhaul of Gaza’s infrastructure.

In this regard, I would urge an end to all attacks coming out of Gaza. Such
attacks inhibit our ability to help the people of Gaza and the absence of
such attacks allows us to get on with the job of helping them.

On the West Bank, there will be an extension of Palestinian Authority
security presence in Area B – with 7 towns approved in principle; an
agreement to fast-track the construction or reconstruction of schools and
health clinics in Area C on the basis of plans submitted by the Palestinian
Authority and my office to COGAT. 5000 Gaza-registered residents of the West
Bank will be given WB ID cards. Outstanding issues to do with revenue
collection are agreed to be resolved quickly between the Government of
Israel and Palestinian Authority Finance Ministries.

Thirdly, in respect of East Jerusalem, the Government of Israel has agreed
to encourage the implementation of all projects that abide by municipal
regulations that will improve infrastructure there for Palestinians,
including in particular housing, starting with two projects in East
Jerusalem.

Obviously, agreement to all this is not the same as implementation. There is
always a continual interaction on this between the Office of the Quartet
Representative and the Government of Israel. But over these past two years
there has been significant change on the West Bank, as can be seen from the
strong economic growth there. This has been due, of course, to the
Palestinian Authority’s actions; but also actions of the Government of
Israel to facilitate them.

In respect of Gaza, though the challenge remains enormous, there has been a
significant increase in goods entering Gaza and in construction work. The
measures today will boost all of this significantly and personally I believe
the green light to improving living standards and conditions of people in
East Jerusalem is of enormous importance to the future.

None of this is a substitute for a credible political process. I hope one
gets underway as soon as possible. But I have always maintained that it is a
combination of measures that improve life on the ground and a strong
political negotiation that will produce peace.

Today, with all the uncertainty in the region, I believe that more than
ever.

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