Tel Aviv seeking revival of Oslo era Palestine-Israel economic cooperation board

Tel Aviv seeking revival of Oslo era Palestine-Israel economic cooperation board
2 min read
06 July, 2021
Israel's regional cooperation minister is attempting to reconvene a board aiming to get rid of barriers to Palestine's financial performance.
The board is set to meet again, more than a decade since the last time it gathered [Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Getty-file photo]


Israel's regional cooperation minister is attempting to reconvene the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), a Palestinian-Israeli economic cooperation board begun during the time of the Oslo Accords.

Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej is spearheading the move aimed at boosting the economy and removing barriers to Palestinian financial performance, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.

Frej, a Palestinian-Israeli lawmaker, described the failure of previous ministers with his brief to appoint to the board as a "badge of shame that I see as my duty to correct."

He asserted that to work with others in the region requires starting with those nearest.

On the Palestinian Authority side, top figures like Hussein Al-Sheikh, the civilian affairs minister, are involved in organising a return to the scheme.

The body was formed as part of the Protocol on Economic Relations agreed in Paris back in 1994, in between the two Oslo Accords.

The return to the JEC is the new Israeli coalition government's first scheme including its Palestinian counterparts.

The JEC is set to push forward at its initial reconvening on two issues the PA has raised. This reconvening is thought to be occurring in the coming weeks.

Ramallah wants 17,000 more permits for Palestinians seeking employment in building and manufacturing within the Jewish state, plus assistance in improving the nation's fuel administration.

The Israeli regional cooperation minister is to be in charge of Tel Aviv's representatives to the JEC, though the composition on the PA side has not been made apparent so far.

When the JEC was formed, the agreement was that both parties would have the same level of representation. The body was to meet to deal with concerns listed as part of the 1994 protocol, such as farming and, as mentioned, job permits.

However, since Tel Aviv put the JEC under the regional cooperation brief, rather than with the treasury in 2009, the body stopped meeting, and many functions have been given over to Israeli local administrators working inside Palestine.

Frej noted: "Unfortunately, in recent years activity with the Palestinians was neglected."

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Now, he is collaborating with figures from both countries to bring the JEC back.

Frej said the aim is "to remove superfluous restrictions on the Palestinian economy and on its ability to develop alongside and together with the Israeli economy." The JEC is also set to encourage additional collaboration efforts beyond its remit.

He wishes to "renew the trust and ability of Israel and the Palestinians to benefit from being neighbours; to build a foundation of trust and mutual economic, cultural and other relations".