Palestinian Authority officials today said that while they welcome Secretary of State John Kerry’s pledges of economic aid to the occupied West Bank, they want to make it clear that they don’t view the funds as a substitute for actual peace talks.
Kerry presented the $4 billion bid yesterday, saying that the Quartet envisioned saving the Palestinian economy by funding tourism in the area. Kerry said experts believed it would increase the Palestinian GDP by 50 percent in three years.
Which leaves open the question of how many tourists want to visit refugee camps and grim villages constantly being raided by the Israeli military, and whether Israel will even play ball by loosening restrictions on visitors which have long kept tourism a niche industry in the area.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas didn’t appear optimistic either, expressing annoyance at US and British “pressure” to resume peace talks and noting that Israel still hasn’t presented a single concrete proposal to base those talks around.