BRUSSELS (May. 18)
The European Community’s Executive Commission has authorized a $15 million grant to improve economic and social conditions for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The grant was announced here last Friday, three days after the conclusion of a conference on Middle East economic development, chaired by the E.C. It was one of the five multilateral meetings on regional problems held in various capitals within the framework of the current Arab-Israeli peace talks.
Israel boycotted the Brussels meeting because Palestinians from outside the West Bank and Gaza Strip were present.
An E.C. commission spokesman said that the grant was earmarked for about 20 projects aimed at creating jobs and revenue in the industrial and agricultural sectors of the Israeli-administered territories, as well as for improving public services and local Palestinian institutions.
It will also finance health and educational services, especially high school and professional training.
The E.C. has been supporting economic development in the territories since 1987. It left vague the issue of grants for Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, which the E.C. still considers disputed territory.