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Israel and PA Sign Transportation Agreement

(September 20, 2005)

On September 20, 2005, Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement that set up a joint transportation office. The office will be assisted and financed by the European Union, which will provide 2.5 million euros to establish the office. Israeli Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit and his PA counterpart Saed-Eddine Khurma signed that agreement because “Transportation infrastructures are critical toward promoting economic growth,” Sheetrit said. He added that he hopes, “via this agreement the EU will be able to assist in financing projects that will build these infrastructures, such as, for example, railways between Haifa and the West Bank and between the Gaza Strip and Ashdod.”

The project is expected to be initiated at the EU meeting in November 2005 in Morocco. The PA has requested that the Israelis ease travel restrictions for the Palestinians to facilitate movement between regions. This would require Israel to help rebuild Gaza's airfield and ease border crossing restrictions, which has been a key issue for both parties since the disengagement plan was implemented in August 2005. Shetrit reassured Khurma that he would personally look into the possibility of lifting some travel restrictions and agreed that it was very important to the Palestinians that Israel assist them as much as possible.

Sources: Globes.