Belgium proposes hosting Palestinian-Israeli economic conference

GMT 23:17 2016 Tuesday ,10 May

Arab Today, arab today Belgium proposes hosting Palestinian-Israeli economic conference

Deputy Belgian Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders

Deputy Belgian Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders proposed Tuesday that his country would host an economic conference aiming at finding Palestinian-Israeli economic partnership.

Reynders proposed the idea at a press conference in Gaza city during his visit.

He added that the idea of the conference is "to rejuvenate economy and trade because the region does not need to depend only on humanitarian aid, because what we need, besides international aid, is economic support for real economic partnership."

The Belgian minister did not mention dates or the reactions of both parties to the idea, but he highlighted that his country will continue deliberations with relevant parties.

Reynders also visited devastated areas during the 2014 war. He said the reconstruction of Gaza "is going at a slow pace, and we came here to see what we can do to speed up the process while reassuring the need to provide the needed money and access for construction material".

Reynders said that the he submitted an official request to the Israeli government to allow in all the construction material needed for the reconstruction.

He also pointed that the reconstruction should include restoring services such as water, electricity and schools.

The minister said that his government is working with the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to speed up the reconstruction plan.

In 2014, Israel waged a large-scale military operation on Gaza that lasted for 50 days during the summer, which left 2,200 Palestinians more than 70 Israelis killed besides large destruction in housing and infrastructure.

The Palestinians have repeatedly complained that only a third of the financial allocation to the Gaza reconstruction plan was received by the Palestinians, which lead to stalling the reconstruction projects.

Israel suspended access of construction material into Gaza since last April, with the exception of Qatari and international projects. Israel accused the Islamic Hamas movement of taking over the material to build tunnels for attacking.

Regarding the stalled peace process between Palestine and Israel, Reynders said "what matters is to resume the dialogue between both parties, and we support the French initiative to hold a conference on the basis of the two-state solution."

Reynders visited the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday and met with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, who called on world powers, and especially the United States and the European Union states to back the French initiative to hold a peace conference.

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