The Palestinian Authority constantly incites against Israel, and Israel does what it has to do to defend its people against the constant terror encouraged by the Ramallah government. But then there is the other side that few ever see — the quiet continuation of economic diplomacy, peacemaking through state-making, leadership training through building up commerce. Israel helping the Palestinian Authority, aided and abetted by the United States, even as Ramallah labels Washington as Public Enemy Number One.
Confusing? Absolutely. But even as a U.S. delegation was being attacked by Arab extremists in Bethlehem on Tuesday afternoon (Jan. 30.), a new installation for scanning cargo was being dedicated at the Allenby Crossing with the expectation the installation will facilitate an increase in commercial activity there while improving and enhancing customs inspections, and providing efficient and quality service.
Israeli government officials said the facility would “give practical expression to commercial ties between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” while serving commerce between the PA and Jordan.
A broad array of officials from the governments of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, the Netherlands, European embassies, the United States, the United Nations and the Quartet of nations attended the ceremonies.
Also on hand were representatives of the many agencies involved in various aspects of the project, including the Airports Authority, the Regional Cooperation Ministry, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.
“The significant and constant increase in the magnitude of Palestinian Authority imports and exports through the Allenby Crossing led to the government decision to build – and invest tens of millions of shekels in – the scanning facility,” said Israeli officials.
The scanner itself was contributed by the Dutch government to the Palestinian Authority. The Israel Tax Authority led the work and was responsible for building and operating the expanded, sophisticated installation which will be able to deal with all types of merchandise, whether in containers or not.
The scanning facility will double the number of containers that can be inspected from 100 to 200 daily, may be operated in all weather conditions, will allow for high level of safety, and will interface with Airports Authority systems, which will expedite the release of merchandise. The facility’s rapid new processes will facilitate the transport of goods requiring refrigeration (for example), for which processing time is critical.
Israeli Finance Minister Kahlon and PA Economy Minister Ouda cut the ribbon at the entrance to the facility. In honor of the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat Deputy Finance Minister Rabbi Cohen planted an almond tree and affixed a mezuzah on the main entrance of the facility.
“I came to the Finance Ministry following a prolonged stalemate in Israel-Palestinian Authority relations,” Kahlon noted. “We decided to take responsibility and advance several joint projects. The project that we are dedicating today is an example of small things leading to a big change.
“We have many plans for continued economic cooperation with the PA. On Sunday I am due to meet with PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and we intend to continue advancing several joint projects. This week I met with [U.S. Special Representative to International Negotiations] Jason Greenblatt, who strongly supports moving things forward. We view Jason Greenblatt and the U.S. as important, fair, principled and the only mediators in advancing regional cooperation.”