(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
 
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today (Wednesday, 27 May 2009), convened the Ministerial Committee on Improving the Situation of the Palestinian Residents of Judea and Samaria.  At the start of the meeting, he said that advancing economic projects for the Palestinian population of Judea and Samaria would a better economic, social and political reality and would improve the Palestinians’ quality of life and personal welfare.  He noted that he was determined to release the impediments to moving forward on the projects in order to implement them as soon as possible.  At the end of the meeting, the Prime Minister said that a series of projects would be presented to the Committee, which would discuss, and decide on, each project with a view towards the rapid and efficient advancement of those projects deemed to be worthy.  He said that emphasis would be given to those projects which could be financed with international capital, stressed that the world is ready to invest in projects in the Palestinian Authority and added that the Government would assist in the implementation of these investments.
 
Defense Minister Ehud Barak presented economic projects in the PA, including: The establishment of an industrial zone in the Mukibleh-Jenin area of northern Samaria, the establishment of an industrial zone for the processing and marketing of agricultural produce in Jericho, the establishment of an industrial zone in the Hebron-Tarkumiyeh area, the establishment of an industrial zone in Bethlehem, environmental protection projects (waste disposal and sewage treatment sites) and the establishment of a Palestinian city near Ramallah.  He noted that approximately 100 projects in various fields in the PA areas of Judea and Samaria are currently in various planning stages.
 
Minister Silvan Shalom, who is responsible for regional development, including economic projects with the PA, noted that the active participation of Government ministers is a basic condition for moving forward on the projects, given that each project has its own problems and impediments that can be solved only by the direct intervention of Prime Minister Netanyahu and other ministers.  In this context, Minister Shalom referred to the project to establish an industrial zone for the processing and marketing of agricultural produce in Jericho, which was planned, and is being financed, by the Japanese Government, and the related issue of connecting the industrial zone to the Allenby Bridge, which is vital for transporting agricultural produce to the Arab countries.  The project is being held up due to a lack of coordination and agreement between the relevant ministries.  Minister Shalom also referred to the project to develop the Qasr al-Yehud baptismal site on the Jordan River.
 
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said that it would be proper to decide on projects that could positively contribute to both sides.