Blair aid de­signed to boost An­napo­lis

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY BERNARD JOSEPHS

AN AR­RAY of eco­nomic projects aimed at pro­vid­ing jobs for thou­sands of Pales­tini­ans and im­prov­ing con­di­tions in the ter­ri­to­ries have been an­nounced by Quar­tet en­voy Tony Blair.

Among the projects agreed dur­ing a meet­ing be­tween Mr Blair, Pales­tinian Prime Min­is­ter Salaam Fayyad and Is­raeli Defence Min­is­ter Ehud Barak are the con­struc­tion of an agro-in­dus­trial park in Jeri­cho, emer­gency sew­er­age work in Gaza, and hous­ing and ed­u­ca­tional de­vel­op­ments in the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries.

De­ci­sions on fi­nanc­ing the projects — the first ma­jor ini­tia­tives since Mr Blair took up his post in June — are ex­pected to be dis­cussed at next month’s in­ter­na­tional donors’ meet­ing in Paris.

The for­mer Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter said the aim was to cre­ate more jobs and greater pros­per­ity “for the or­di­nary Pales­tinian on the ground”. In do­ing this, he said “we do not sep­a­rate the eco­nomic from the po­lit­i­cal or ei­ther from se­cu­rity con­cerns. We sim­ply say... we should give im­pe­tus to eco­nomic progress.”

Mr Blair said the projects would em­ploy tens of thou­sands of Pales­tini­ans and were de­signed to give a feel­ing that “things could change on the ground”. A Bri­tish of­fi­cial de­scribed the plan as a “quick-im­pact project”, de­signed to give im­pe­tus to the forth­com­ing An­napo­lis sum­mit in Amer­ica.

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