(Communicated by Vice Premier Peres’s Foreign Media Adviser)

Vice Premier Shimon Peres said today (Wednesday, February 23) at the first meeting of the Steering Committee to Coordinate Economic and Civilian Issues Related to the Disengagement: “The position that was given to me deals with the coordination of the economic and civilian issues related to the disengagement from Gaza and the Northern Samaria region, and with the future economic relations between us and the Palestinians after the disengagement. These issues are tangent to the work of many government ministries as well.

"We are interested in economic peace in addition to a political peace. The Palestinians residing in Gaza must not find themselves disappointed the day after we disengage. If unemployment and poverty increase, the bitterness will increase as well. I see this scenario as a danger.”

National Security Adviser Giora Eiland presented a wide range of issues that need to be coordinated with the Palestinians, including passages and freedom of movement, transfer of assets, the establishment of a port in Gaza, as well as infrastructure issues such as electricity, water, gas, communications. At the meeting’s conclusion, Peres’s Director-General Efrat Duvdevani presented a list of subcommittees that will deal with these issues.

Participants also included Minister Haim Ramon, Prime Minister’s Office DG Ilan Cohen, Transportation Ministry DG Ben-Zion Salman, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yosef Mishlev, and senior officials from the Foreign, Finance, Communications, Justice, National Infrastructures, and Defense ministries.