JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to help the Palestinians “rapidly develop their economy” as soon as he gets into office, if he wins the February elections.
“I have a concrete plan to rapidly jump-start the Palestinian economy,” the Likud Party leader told the Jewish Agency Assembly in Jerusalem on Sunday.
Netanyahu said that while “economic development is not a substitute for political negotiations,” he believes improvement in economic conditions for the Palestinians can create the context for a favorable settlement.
Netanyahu, who is leading in the polls, also decried Israel’s “deteriorating educational system,” calling it a “major crisis” that is obscured by the fact that one-tenth of 1 percent of the population are geniuses.
The former prime minister spoke on the third day of the world Zionist gathering, which was to conclude with an address Sunday evening by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that also will open the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities.