PA Cancels Economic Talks with Israel

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RAMALLAH - Despite a successful meeting last week with Israeli Minister of Regional Development Silvan Shalom, Palestinian Authority Economic Minister Bassem Khoury said he will not be meeting with representatives of the Jewish state for the foreseeable future.

Last week's meeting was the first official talks between Israel and the PA since the Netanyahu government was installed in February.

After Khoury and Shalom met privately, they were joined by members of a joint economic committee.

Afterward, both sides called the discussions "a good start" and said they planned to press ahead with joint economic projects at monthly meetings.

But Khoury's enthusiasm was not well received by PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his government, and Khoury subsequently announced that he would not follow through with plans to meet three more times before the end of the year.

Among the topics discussed in last week's meeting was the industrial park in Jenin, the baptismal site at the Jordan River and a number of other joint economic ventures.

The ministers also discussed Israeli medical care for Palestinians and ways to minimize bureaucratic red tape at checkpoints for Palestinian businessmen.

In a related incident, Palestinian customs agents destroyed 45 tons of Israeli food products on Monday, which they said had past-due expiration dates.

The products included chocolate, jams, coffee, dates and juice. The PA also destroyed mineral water, pickles, biscuits, fireworks - used at Arab weddings - and toys produced by Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

Products produced by Jews in Judea and Samaria are banned in the PA marketplace.

Hevron official Hussein al-Araj and representatives of the PA's health, economic, preventive security, civil defense, police, liason office, military intelligence, civil guidance and civil society institutions were all on hand to watch the destruction of the products.

Sources: Ynet news, Maan news

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