Blair, Bar-On encourage ties with PA

Visiting Swedish business delegation evaluates opportunities for cooperation between Israel, Palestinians.

Blair and Bar-On 88 224 (photo credit: Finance Ministry)
Blair and Bar-On 88 224
(photo credit: Finance Ministry)
Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On and Middle East envoy Tony Blair met Wednesday to discuss ways to build an infrastructure aimed at forging economic cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. "Improvement and economic growth within the Palestinian Authority is the stimulus for strengthening the ties between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and is likely to improve the security situation," Bar-On said. During the meeting, he emphasized the government's commitment to the peace process. In an interview last month with the British daily The Times, Blair said an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement could be reached by the end of the year. Bar-On said representatives of the Finance Ministry had just met with the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Economic Committee for the first time in seven years to discuss trade, tax, infrastructure, standards and joint enterprise issues aimed at increasing economic cooperation between the two sides. The meeting was attended by Finance Ministry director-general Yarom Ariav, PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad and other Israeli and PA officials and economists. The two sides agreed to work to advance economic projects. Meanwhile, Swedish Foreign Trade Minister Ewa Björling is in Israel this week to evaluate opportunities for Swedish cooperation between Israel and the PA. He is being accompanied by a delegation of Swedish businessmen, including Proventus Investment House chairman Robert Weil, Proventus CEO Daniel Sachs, Swedfund Venture Capital Fund director Per Juth, Swedbank CEO and regional manager Christian Petterson and ABB project manager Helga Larsen. As part of the visit to Israel, Björling and the business delegation will take part in a roundtable discussion on the economic relations between Israel and Sweden on Thursday in Tel Aviv. It is being arranged by the Palestine International Business Forum (PIBF). PIBF seeks cooperation among the private sectors in the PA, Israel and Sweden. Its goal is to encourage economic-technological projects in the private sector within the PA to achieve sustainable economic growth as a basis for long-term political and social stability in the Middle East. The organization has extensive activities in the areas of agriculture, water, hi-tech and tourism. Among the Israeli business people expected to attend the roundtable discussion will be Yehuda Talmon, president of the Association of Self-employed; Amiram Shore, Israeli vice chairman of PIBF and chairman of ENT Exceptional New Technologies; David Simcha, honorary president of the Association of Binational Chambers of Commerce; Yehuda Kahane, an insurance expert from Tel Aviv University; and Eli Streit, president of SmartLink Technologies.