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      Kerry Announces Plan to Boost PA Economy

      U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry unveils plan to boost the PA's economy by attracting $4 billion in private investment.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 5/27/2013, 6:14 AM

      Kerry at the World Economic Forum in Jordan
      Kerry at the World Economic Forum in Jordan
      Reuters

      U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled on Sunday a plan to boost the Palestinian Authority’s economy by attracting $4 billion in private investment, AFP reported.

      Kerry said the plan could transform the lives of PA Arabs, adding it was also imperative to create jobs and meet the hopes of young people for a better economic future.

      He has tasked Tony Blair, the Quartet's special envoy to the Middle East, with drawing up a plan to revitalize the PA-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria through boosting industries such as tourism, construction, information technology and agriculture, reported AFP.

      Blair's plan, being aided by some global business leaders who are giving their time free, could be "ground-shaking," Kerry said.

      The group was putting together recommendations for the PA’s leadership to decide on, aiming to "mobilize some $4 billion of investment."

      "These experts believe we will increase the Palestinian GDP by as much as 50 percent over three years," Kerry told the closing session of the World Economic Forum meeting in Jordan.

      "The most optimistic estimates foresee enough new jobs to cut unemployment by two-thirds to eight percent down from 21 percent and to increase the median wage by 40 percent," he said, according to AFP.

      Some 100,000 jobs in home construction alone could be created in the next three years, while tourism could triple, according to the plan.

      While details of the plan remained sketchy, Blair's office said in statement they were "analyzing the potential of various sectors of the Palestinian economy and identifying measures that could be taken to spur transformative growth."

      They were "consulting with a number of key international and local experts and stakeholders from the different economic sectors" and would provide details "in due course," it added, according to AFP.

      The PA has complained of a financial crisis, the worse in its history, with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad having warned the entity may fail and cease to exist. At the same time the entity has continued to provide huge monthly salaries to terrorists serving time in Israeli prisons.

      The Arab League states have pledged to pay the PA $100 million a month in a “safety net”. Saudi Arabia has indicated that it will contribute $20 million each month to the PA.

      Kerry, as part of his attempts to kickstart the peace process, has been fighting to send the PA nearly $700 million in aid, despite major budget cuts and a fierce debate over where existing money should go.

      A report in March said that the United States had quietly unblocked almost $500 million in aid to the PA which had been frozen by Congress for months.