Finance officials from both sides propose new cooperation in medicine, tech and construction, among other areas

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)


Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has met several times with his Palestinian counterpart Shukri Bishara in recent weeks to hammer out a plan for boosting economic assistance to the Palestinians, according to a Sunday report.

Kahlon is now slated to bring a raft of new initiatives to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for approval in the coming days, Channel 10 reported.

The plan is the result of a series of meetings between senior officials in the Israeli and Palestinian finance ministries, over the last several months, despite spiraling street violence. The last bilateral meeting of the finance officials took place last week.

The proposal focuses on both knowledge-intensive industries such as healthcare and high-tech, as well as expanding Israeli-Palestinian economic integration in the construction sector.

Officials in Israel said the measure is intended in part as a gesture to the Obama administration, after Netanyahu promised US President Barack Obama last November to expand efforts to reinvigorate the Palestinian economy.

But it is also seen in Israel as key to tackling lowering tensions in recent months amid the collapse of peace talks and a wave of Palestinian terror attacks since October.

Under the new plan, Palestinian doctors will reportedly be invited to train in Israeli hospitals, especially in medical fields relevant to the recent wave of violence, which has claimed 166 Palestinian lives, about two-thirds of them attackers attempting to kill Israelis at the time of their deaths, and 31 on the Israeli side, including three foreign nationals.

In what may be a significant boost to the Palestinian tech sector, Kahlon is also expected to propose new study and internship opportunities for Palestinian tech entrepreneurs and engineers in Israel’s world-leading high-tech industry.

Palestinian construction companies and contractors will also be allowed to operate in Israel, expanding access to the Israeli market from the current situation in which only Palestinian day laborers are allowed into Israel to work for Israeli companies.

There was no immediate Palestinian confirmation of the initiative.

Palestinians and others have pointed to Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza as contributing to high unemployment rates and near-stagnant economic growth.

An IMF report released earlier this month found that economic growth for Palestinians in the West Bank slowed to an estimated 2.8 percent in 2015 and was likely to remain below 3.0 percent this year.

As reported by The Times of Israel