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Arafat Secures German Pledge to Foster Private Investments

Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat has secured a pledge from German officials that they would provide guarantees to foster private investments in the self-rule areas of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Germany, encouraged by Israeli officials, has contributed more than $180 million during 1994 and 1995 to Palestinian development programs.

At a meeting over the weekend with German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, Arafat sought support for three large-scale projects in Gaza – an industrial park, an airport and a deep-water seaport – to help reduce Palestinian unemployment.

Arafat and Kinkel also reportedly discussed the future of Middle East peace in the wake of the Nov. 4 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Although the German government has pledged to help with the construction of bridges and roads and with other infrastructure projects in Gaza and the West Bank, it has not committed itself to supporting the three largest projects on Arafat’s wish list.

During his three-day trip to Germany, Arafat visited Hamburg, where utility company officials said they would help him secure the financing to build a modern garbage-disposal plant in Gaza that would convert waste into energy.

On Nov. 24, Arafat received the German Media Prize, which he was to have shared with Rabin, for his efforts to advance Middle East Peace.

Israeli Ambassador Avi Primor received the prize in Rabin’s name.

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