Thursday, July 23, 2009

Improving Palestinian Quality of Life - Update

22 July 2009

Israel has taken further steps to improve the quality of life of Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), as well as in the Gaza Strip, and to encourage the development of these areas. As detailed in the previous report of 9 July, the government's decision to remove many of the check points in Judea and Samaria and to ease travel restrictions has served to advance the economy and enhance living conditions in the West Bank.

Israel decided to extend the hours of operation of the Allenby Bridge border terminal with Jordan, so as to facilitate the transfer of goods. Prime Minister Netanyahu convened (8 July 2009) the Ministerial Committee on Improving the Economic Situation of the Palestinian Residents of Judea and Samaria and instructed the relevant officials to immediately and significantly extend the Allenby Border Terminal's hours of operation, in cooperation with Jordan, until midnight every day. These extended hours of operation are designed to increase the import and export of goods, which should boost the volume of commercial activity in the West Bank and improve the Palestinian population's quality of life. The implementation of these instructions will be overseen by the Israel Airports Authority which operates the Allenby Border Terminal.

The Joint Israeli-Palestinian Subcommittee for Postal Affairs met for the first time on 28 June, and discussed alternatives for solving the problems of delays in postal delivery from Jordan to the Palestinian Authority via the Allenby Bridge. In addition, both sides agreed on measures to facilitate the transfer of a postal stamp shipment destined for the Palestinian Authority that has been delayed for some time in Jordan, and to maintain a channel between Israel and the Palestinian Authority for direct postal transfers of mail originating in and destined for both sides.

Israel is also taking steps to improve the situation in the Gaza Strip.

One positive aspect is on the issue of social security. Ongoing negotiations are moving forward with the Palestinians on transferring Israeli social security funds to Palestinian beneficiaries in the Gaza Strip. It was decided that from now on the Palestinian Authority will be responsible for transferring the funds. This will greatly ease the economic situation in the Gaza Strip, as limitations on cash transfers prevented social security beneficiaries there from enjoying the monthly stipend to which they were entitled.

Granting the Palestinian Authority responsibility for transferring the funds will serve to strengthen the governing ability of the PA. Israel's National Insurance Institute [Social Security] will transfer the funds to the Palestinian Authority, which, in turn, will ensure their transfer to bank accounts of beneficiaries opened for that purpose in Ramallah. The Israeli side will commit itself to increase accordingly the sums of cash transferred to the Gaza Strip, in order to cover the amounts that will be transferred to the social security beneficiaries there.

In addition, a special convoy of 17 trucks bearing humanitarian aid from Saudi Arabia crossed into the Gaza Strip, in coordination with Egypt, through the Kerem Shalom crossing point on July 7. This was the first such transfer of assistance from Saudi Arabia, and it is hoped that it will be followed by others from that country.

Since the end of the IDF operation in Gaza (18 Jan 2009), about 408,014 tons of aid and over 55.034 million liters of fuel have been delivered to the Gaza Strip.

During the week 12-17 July 2009, the following supplies were transferred:

- 470 truckloads (9839 tons) of humanitarian aid were transferred to the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom cargo terminal and the Karni conveyor belt.

- 2.077 million liters of heavy duty diesel for the Gaza power station, 250,000 liters of fuel for transportation, 20,000 liters of gasoline, and 1136 tons of gas for domestic use were delivered via Nahal Oz fuel depot.

Additionally, 347 Gaza residents entered Israel via Erez Crossing for medical and humanitarian reasons.

מח' מידע ואינטרנט – אגף תקשורת

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