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February 19, 1993 - Image 57

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-02-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Satur

Jerusalem (JTA) — Israel is
mounting a concerted drive
to enhance economic oppor-
tunities for Palestinians in
the West Bank and Gaza
Strip, Israeli officials and
business executives said this
week.
Such economic develop-
ment in the territories can
help pave the way for a suc-
cessful autonomy arrange-
ment for Palestinians and
combat the appeal of mili-
tant Islamic fundamen-
talism, the group of promi-
nent Israelis told reporters.
The group pointed to new
growth due to the post-
Persian Gulf War liberaliza-
tion of tax laws governing
Palestinian businesses and
foreign investment in the
territories. They also cited
increased permits for banks
and insurance companies,
and urged the creation of
new markets and free trade
agreements.
Above all, they stressed
that timing is critical.
"The most important thing
is not to waste time," said

The economy is
the key and the
main lever to
peace.

Ephraim Sneh, a Knesset
member and chairman of the
Subcommittee for the Ad-
ministration of the Ter-
ritories. "Anything which
may improve the economic
independence of the Palesti-
nians should be done as soon
as possible."
Danny Gillerman, presi-
dent of the Federation of the
Israeli Chambers of Com-
merce, said Israeli and Arab
business executives must
take the initiative and start
building relationships to en-
sure that joint economic co-
ordination is a success once
autonomy is established.
"We shouldn't wait for the
politicians or negotiators to
conclude an agreement," he
said.
Mr. Gillerman said he met
last week in Europe with
economists and business ex-
ecutives from Saudi Arabia,
Kuwait, Qatar, Oman,
Egypt and the territories, to
talk about establishing a
Middle Eastern common
market. He also discussed

ending the Arab boycott of
Israel.
"There is a desire on all
sides to weigh the economic
implications of a peace trea-
ty, so when it comes, we're
prepared," . he said. That
desire is often officially de-
nied by Palestinian dele-
gates, but expressed through
informal channels, he said.
Mr. Gillerman said he
envisions a common market
for Israel, the territories and
Jordan as "a first stage." He
said he sees "no sense" in
customs and borders bet-
ween Israel and the ter-
ritories, but he does see an
urgency in raising the stan-
dard of living there to ensure
as "level a playing field as
possible.
"The economy is the key
and the main lever to
peace," said Mr. Gillerman.
"We must raise the standard
of living and quality of life in
the region, which will guar-
antee that peace is wor-
thwhile."
Mr. Sneh said the most
"urgent" need for improve-
ment applies to the Gaza
Strip, "because the situation
is extremely bad and is very
tightly connected to securi-
ty."
llamas, the Islamic fun-
damentalist group, has
made the most inroads in the
poorest areas in Gaza, where
the infrastructure has been
neglected by the Israeli ad-
ministration, said Brig. Gen.
Freddy Zach, an economic
coordinator in the ter-
ritories.
Gen. Zach said that since
the 1991 Persian Gulf War,
the administration govern-
ing the territories has focus-
ed primarily on economic
development and jobs crea-
tion.
He cited a new investment
in infrastructure which he
said has resulted in 90 new
factories in Gaza. New
orders for tax exemptions
have helped create another
dozen, he said. A relaxation
in visa permits for investors
has also helped spur growth,
Gen. Zach said.

In response to Palestinian
charges that changed policy
has not been translated into
changed reality, Gen. Zach
conceded there is a "lack of
confidence" in the ad-
ministration's new policies
in the territories. But he in-
sisted there have been real
changes.

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