Israeli, Palestinian Economy Ministers Meet in Paris

Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen. (Flash90)

Pragmatism won out over political posturing in Paris, as a Palestinian Authority official met with his Israeli counterpart despite an ongoing boycott of Israeli and American representatives.

French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a meeting between Israeli Economy Minister Eli Cohen and PA National Economy Minister Abeer Odeh at the Elysee Palace last Thursday, in ongoing contacts aimed at increasing trade and boosting employment among Palestinians, The Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday.

“Promoting joint economic projects is in the interest of both sides and has security and political importance beyond the economic dimension,” Cohen said in a statement. “Joint projects will address, among other things, the current shortage of workers in Israel due to the low level of unemployment.”

The number of work permits allotted to Palestinians, export of Palestinian goods and developing joint industrial zones with Israel, were among the topics on the agenda.

“Our policy is to make it as easy as possible and to make every effort to provide a normal life for those who are not involved in terrorism, but not at the expense of the security of the state of Israel,” Cohen said.

As much as the Palestinians need Israeli and international help to raise their standard of living, criticism was leveled at Odeh in some Palestinian quarters for meeting with the Israelis and seeking that help.

For example, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, denounced Odeh, saying “the PA is unwilling… to put an end to the Palestinian economy’s dependence on Israel.”

Last week, Finance Minister Kahlon and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
met with Major-General Yoav Mordechai, the head of Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to discuss economic cooperation. That too, was the target of domestic criticism.