Palestinian, Israeli ministers meet after US Jerusalem move

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JERUSALEM: Senior Palestinian and Israeli officials met at a ceremony Tuesday in the first high-level encounter since US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Palestinian economy minister Abeer Odeh and Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon attended the inauguration of a new cargo scanner at the Israeli-controlled Allenby Bridge border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.

The new device will enable 200 containers to cross between Jordan and the Palestinian territory a day instead of the current 100, Israel’s tax authority said in a statement.

Other senior Israeli and Palestinian officials were at the event, as well as a Jordanian representative and Dutch diplomats, whose country donated the new machine.

“I reached the finance ministry after a long period of stagnation in the relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” Kahlon said in remarks relayed by the tax authority. “We’ve decided to take responsibility and advance a number of joint projects.”

“We have many plans to continue our financial cooperation with the (Palestinian) Authority,” Kahlon said at the ceremony.

Kahlon noted that he will be meeting with Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah in Jerusalem on Sunday as part of their efforts to advance “a number of joint projects.”

Hamdallah and Kahlon meet regularly to discuss economic and infrastructure issues. Their last talks took place on October 30.

Their Sunday meeting will be the first since Trump pledged on December 6 to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, breaking with the policies of his predecessors.

Outraged Palestinian leaders said the US could no longer play the role of peace broker and called for the suspension of their recognition of Israel, a move that has not been implemented.

The United States meanwhile withheld $65 million of funds earmarked for the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

Palestinian officials did not confirm the Israeli report on the meeting.

Hamdallah is heading for Brussels for an “emergency” meeting Wednesday of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, which coordinates international donor support for the Palestinians.

The Palestinian premier will raise the issue of the financial crisis facing his government and seek funding for Gaza, a government statement said.

Source: Arab News


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