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EU supports Gaza crossing upgrade

March 20, 2012 10:27 A.M. (Updated: March 22, 2012 11:15 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The European Union contributed 13 million euros ($17.2 million) to upgrade the sole goods crossing into the Gaza Strip, a press statement said Monday.

A further 22 million euros ($29.1 million) of EU funds will be used to build a medium scale wastewater treatment plant in the Tubas area.

"Fully aware of the scarcity of water resources in the occupied Palestinian territory, the EU has identified water as one of the focal sectors of its assistance," Ashton said.

"The upgrading of the Kerem Shalom crossing point allows for an increased movement of goods in and out of the Gaza Strip," she added.

The Gaza Strip is squeezed by an Israel blockade, and after the closure of three crossings, the southern Kerem Shalom terminal is the sole access point for goods into Gaza. The crossing with Egypt is only equipped for passengers.

Work on the crossing under the EU project -- which will be conducted by the PA in coordination with Israel -- will build and expand infrastructure including loading and inspection areas and warehouses, as well as providing IT equipment.

EU Foreign Affairs chief Catherine Ashton signed the two agreements with PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Brussels on Monday, ahead of a meeting of donors to Palestine in the city.

The PA issued its report to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee on Monday, calling for more support to invest in Area C, the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control.

Palestinians "cannot simply wait for the conclusion of peace negotiations to reverse this de-development and destruction of livelihoods' by the Israeli occupation," the report says.
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