Abbas: PA, Israel reach economic agreement in West Bank, Gaza

Palestinian Authority president says deal would see unlimited export, import of good and services to and from territories

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on July 22, 2014 in the West Bank city of Ramallah (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on July 22, 2014 in the West Bank city of Ramallah (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that an agreement has been reached with Israel in which the Palestinian Authority will be able to export and import goods and services to and from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

“Anything the [Palestinian] Authority wants, it will get, and we will also be able to [work] in the Gaza Strip. This will alleviate the situation for the residents there,” he was quoted by Channel 10 as saying.

According to the Palestinian news agnecy Ma’an, the agreement was reached with the help of United Nations representatives.

There was no immediate official announcement or response from the Israeli government.

On Tuesday, the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority government called for international donors to provide over $550 million in aid to help hundreds of thousands of Gazans affected by the summer’s war with Israel.

But the deputy Palestinian prime minister warned international donors were hesitant to fund the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip so long as Hamas remains in control there and the specter of future wars looms.

The appeal came two weeks after Israel and Hamas ended 50 days of bloodshed that killed more than 2,100 people according to Gaza medical sources, and a month ahead of a donors’ conference in Cairo. Hamas says most of the dead are civilians, while Israel says half were fighters, many of them operating in populated areas, and that Hamas is to blame for all civilian casualties having set up its war machine in residential areas.

Earlier this week, Abbas threatened to break off a unity agreement with Hamas if the Islamist movement did not allow the government to operate properly in the Gaza Strip.

“We will not accept the situation with Hamas continuing as it is at the moment,” Abbas said on arrival in the Egyptian capital late Saturday, in remarks published by official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

“We won’t accept a partnership with them if the situation continues like this in Gaza, where there is a shadow government… running the territory,” he said. “The national consensus government cannot do anything on the ground,” he charged.

But Hamas denounced his allegations as “baseless.”

“Abbas’s statements against Hamas and the resistance are unjustified,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement. “It is untrue, baseless and unfair to our people,” he said, indicating that Hamas representatives would meet “soon” with their counterparts in the rival Fatah movement to discuss fleshing out the reconciliation deal which was inked in April.

Under the terms of that agreement, the Palestinians agreed to form an interim consensus government of technocrats, ending seven years of rival administrations in the West Bank and Gaza.

The unity deal sought to end years of bitter and sometimes bloody rivalry between the Islamist Hamas movement and its Fatah rivals who dominate the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.

The new cabinet, which is based in Ramallah, took office on June 2, with Gaza’s Hamas government officially stepping down the same day.

Despite the handover, Hamas has remained the de facto power in Gaza.

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