$1b. pledged at Palestinian investment forum

The West Bank had 8 percent growth in the past year, as Israel eased restrictions on trade and movement.

abbas investment conference 311 (photo credit: AP)
abbas investment conference 311
(photo credit: AP)
BETHLEHEM – Investors and donor countries have pledged nearly $1 billion worth of programs at the start of a two-day West Bank investment confereance.
The conference is part of the international community’s attempt to revive the West Bank economy and make the Palestinians less dependent on foreign aid.
The West Bank had 8 percent growth in the past year, as Israel easedrestrictions on trade and movement. However, economists say much morecould be done to unleash the potential of the Palestinian economy,battered by years of conflict with Israel.
The programs announced Wednesday included a $500 million fund offeringlong-term loans to prospective West Bank home owners. A $300m. plan tobuild West Bank power plants was also unveiled.
The last conference, held in 2008, brought in more than $1.4b. Thatmoney was invested in the new Palestinian city of Rawabi, which isunder construction near Ramallah, and a new hotel in the West Bank.
The Civil Administration assisted the Palestinians in planning theconference and has issued more than 1,000 permits to allow businessmenfrom some 16 countries to cross into the West Bank and even travel toIsrael.
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.