Palestinians Seek Greater Control over Economic Matters in West Bank

The economics minister of the Palestinian Authority has requested that Israel give the Palestinians control over economic mattes throughout the West Bank, instead of waiting for the issue to be discussed in the final-status negotiations two years from now.

Meeting with Israeli Finance Minister Avraham Shohat here last week, Ahmed Karia said that without control over the West Bank economy, the Palestinian leadership would have difficulties planning the economic development of areas already under its control.

Karia, also known as Abu Alaa, raised the issue during the first meeting tin two months of the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Economic Committee, which has overall responsibility for negotiating economic issues confronting the two sides.

The meeting was held in order to discuss the implementation of the Paris economic agreement that was signed in April and gives the Palestinians economic independence in the autonomous areas of the Gaza Strip and West Bank Jericho enclave.

Responding to Karia’s request, Shohat said the joint economic committee only had authority over economic issues related to Gaza and Jericho. But he agreed to pass on the request to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Meanwhile, Shohat announced at the meeting that Israel was transferring some $3.8 million to the Palestinian Authority from taxes Israel collected from the Palestinians on imports and fuel excise taxes. The money also included refunds on payments for health stamps and income taxes made by Palestinians working in the territories.

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