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Palestinians call Israeli economic offer too little, too late

While Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon made a dramatic visit to Ramallah to announce a package of economic concessions, the Palestinians were less than impressed.
Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon gestures as he speaks at an event in Ofakim, southern Israel May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen - RTX3821U

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the head Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit, traveled to the Palestinian headquarters in Ramallah to personally present Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah with a series of concessions adopted by the Israeli defense Cabinet. Late on the evening of May 31, with the approval of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, the top Israeli representatives met with the Palestinian prime minister and the minister for civil affairs in the Palestinian Authority (PA), Hussein al-Sheikh. They presented them with what the Israeli Cabinet called civilian-economic steps.

On May 21, the eve of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel, the Cabinet adopted a package put together by Netanyahu and Finance Ministry and COGAT officials that was essentially a pre-emptive move designed to head off a US demand that Israel adopt some goodwill gestures toward the Palestinians. The measures approved included opening the Allenby Bridge (the passage between Jordan, Israel and the PA) around the clock, rather than a few hours per day. The passages controlled by Israel within the West Bank will be upgraded and kept open for longer hours, and an industrial zone employing Palestinians will be established adjacent to the Tarkumiye crossing.

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