Lapid Meets PA’s Bishara to Discuss Economic Cooperation

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israel’s Finance Minister Yair Lapid met on Sunday with his Palestinian counterpart, Shukri Bishara, for the first time, picking up where the previous government left off in its policy of economic cooperation that ended in November 2012, prior to Israeli elections.

According to both Israeli and Palestinian officials, the initial aim of the talks was to relaunch regular meetings on technical issues such as crossing points; fuel, power and water supplies to the Palestinians; and payment for treatment of Palestinians in Israeli hospitals, AFP said.

Lapid recently affirmed the importance of such dialogue, and that he intends to advance current economic issues between the two sides, though he declined to elaborate.

On Tuesday, PA Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Mustafa said that the authority’s debts had reached $4.2 billion, and said aid would be necessary to pay salaries in the coming months.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who last week postponed his fifth visit to Israel since starting in the position, has made boosting the Palestinian economy central to his initiative to renew direct peace talks. In May, Kerry announced a plan to organize $4 billion of private investment to stimulate the Palestinian economy.