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Gaza could help West Bank financially, says deputy premier

Feb. 8, 2013 8:45 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 15, 2013 7:51 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The “partially self-sufficient” Gaza Strip is ready to rescue the West Bank economy which is facing a severe financial crisis, the deputy premier in Gaza said Friday.

Speaking to Ma’an, Ziad al-Thatha highlighted that the Hamas government adopted a strong economic vision which helped reach self-sufficiency in many sectors including food production, clothing industry, furniture and animal production.

“We have managed to achieve a resisting economy and reached self sufficiency in agricultural products," al-Thatha said.

Furthermore, he added, we reached self-sufficiency in food production and animal production. He explained that the government managed to reduce unemployment to a great extent. “Last year, poultry farms raised about 24.3 million chickens. About 25,000 workers are employed in agriculture, and all factories have been exempted from paying taxes.”

There are also small factories which produce juices and jams in addition to the olive oil presses which seriously reduces olive oil imports. “In 2011, the Gaza Strip imported 1,650 tons of olive oil, while in 2012 the rate was reduced to 100 tons only.”

As for exports, al-Thatha highlighted that only strawberries and flowers are exported. “Due to the siege, we are not exporting anything else, though we have the potential to export fruits, furniture and clothes.”

The Hamas official said Salam Fayyad's government does not allocate a portion of its budget to the Gaza Strip. “This is baseless. They actually take money from Gaza because all the custom taxes which the Israeli occupation collects at Gaza crossings go to the PA. Fayyad’s government, in return, kills potential in the Gaza Strip by paying salaries to unproductive employees.”

Asked whether the Gaza Strip would send financial aid to the West Bank if necessary, al-Thatha said that “In case of emergency, we will not hesitate, but we need to change the West Bank policies.”
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