Binyamin Ben Eliezer and Hasan Abu Libda 311.
(photo credit: Assaf Shilo/Israel Sun photo)
Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer met with his Palestinian counterpart, National Economy Minister Hassan Abu Libda, in Tel Aviv on Thursday.
The ministers spoke about economic and trade issues between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This was the first meeting between an Israeli industry, trade and labor minister and his Palestinian counterpart in five years.
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Sources who attended the meeting reported that Ben- Eliezer had expressed frustration over the PA’s intention to pass a law making it illegal for Palestinians to work in Israeli-owned businesses in the West Bank. Ben-Eliezer told Abu Libda that he had instructed his ministry’s director-general, Sharon Kadmi, to prepare special aid to assist the Israeli factories in replacing the Palestinian workers with Israelis.
Ben-Eliezer also spoke to Abu Libda about the Palestinian consumer boycott of settlement- made products, which Abu Libda said his government was adamant about keeping in place despite Israeli threats.
According to the ministry spokesman, Abu Libda asked for Israel’s assistance in gaining observer status at the World Trade Organization.
Abu Libda also spoke about the need to promote the Palestinian economy by developing industrial zones in the West Bank and canceling the restriction on importing dual-purpose products to Gaza.
The PA minister said it was necessary to ease access and movement of people and goods, both within the West Bank and between the West Bank and Gaza. He also requested that Israel allow foreign investors free access to PA-controlled areas.
The sides agreed to continue the dialogue on a regular basis and
instructed their staffs to meet often to discuss prevailing issues like
future Israeli recognition of Palestinian standards and allowing
Palestinian goods to enter east Jerusalem.
“We are at a historic moment, with the chance to create a positive
atmosphere at the start of direct negotiations between the sides,” said
Ben-Eliezer after the meeting.