France and Palestine signed Saturday a 9 million euro agreement aimed at helping the Palestinian Authority (PA) financially and another one for 10 million euros to build a solid waste treatment plant in the Gaza Strip.
Prime Minister-designate Rami Hamdallah thanked France for the money, which he said was badly needed to help the PA overcome its financial crisis and a $500 million deficit in order to be able to pay salaries for 180,000 public employees on time.
He said he will ask European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton when he meets her on September 9 in Brussels for more financial support to the budget.
Speaking following the signing of the agreements with visiting French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Hamdallah said that the solid waste treatment plant will be build in central Gaza and is worth $32 million, which will be supplemented financially from the World Bank and the European Union.
“We asked for France’s assistance to lift in total the blockade Israel has imposed on Gaza so that we can develop the Gaza Strip,” said Hamdallah, who also told Fabius that Israeli settlements impede the peace process urging France to support Palestinian projects in areas of the West Bank under full Israeli control and in East Jerusalem.
On his part, Fabius said France will continue to financially support the Palestinians in spite of its own economic problems urging the PA to diversify its financial resources.
He said the 9 million euro budget aid is only a first payment that will be followed by another payment to be announced when French President Francois Hollande visits the region in the near future.
He expressed France’s support to the peace process and negotiations with Israel, which he said he hopes will lead to the establishment of a viable and secure Palestinian state living alongside Israel.