For the first time in more than five years, the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria on Sunday conducted a tour of the Ashdod Port for close to 50 senior Palestinian merchants from the West Bank. Civil administration officials said the tour was made possible by the relatively calm security situation in the West Bank and the recent establishment of a Fatah-led Palestinian Authority government without the Hamas terrorist group. Lt.-Col. Doron Segal, head of the civil administration's economic division, said the tour was intended to expose the merchants to the port and to the possibility of using it to increase their imports and exports. "Exposing the Palestinian businessmen to the port and to its various mechanisms will lead to an increase in the merchandise that goes through the port and to an improvement in the PA economy," Segal said. Two weeks ago, the civil administration began upgrading relations with the new PA government led by Prime Minister Salaam Fayad. For the first time since 2005, the administration reestablished coordination committees and District Coordination Offices in an effort to strengthen PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and PA governmental institutions, Segal said. In the first stage, the civil administration has started coordinating humanitarian and civilian issues with the PA in Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus, Kalkilya and Jericho. The next stage will be to upgrade the coordination and to revive joint committees on agriculture, water, sewage and additional civilian matters.