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PA economy minister: Settlement removal is priority

Oct. 31, 2010 10:15 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 15, 2010 4:26 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Eliminating settlements from occupied Palestinian territory is the national objective and the basis for the government-led settlement boycott, Palestinian Authority National Economy Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh said Saturday.

Since taking office in 2009, Libdeh has led a campaign to end the sale of settlement produce in the West Bank. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced the boycott in January 2010, and it was implemented across the West Bank in May.

Addressing reporters at the PA Government Media Center, Libdeh rejected recent accusations that his office violated its own ban on trading in settlement goods by issuing permits to vendors and merchants allowing them to trade in settlement goods from Atarot.

The minister said it was not a secret that there were a number of Palestinian investments in some settlements, but said Palestinian businesses had been given a deadline to relocate factories and warehouses outside settlements.

As for Israeli factories based in settlements, Libdeh said that the PA would welcome their produce once they were relocated inside Israel.

The minister also said the PA must focus on reducing dependency on foreign aid, adding that the current expenditure was unsustainable and austerity measures were needed.

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