In addition, Peres called on the US private sector to increase investments in PA-controlled territories.
Noting other problems faced by the PA, Minister Peres told Mr. Walsh that disarming Hamas is a prerequisite for the success of the regime of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). "We cannot stand for the presence of an armed terrorist group that could upset any balance among the Palestinians," Peres said.
Minister Peres also laid out before Undersecretary Walsh the economic and security concerns of Israel in establishing an airport in territory under PA control. Mr. Peres noted the need to maintain the current tax structure between the PA and Israel, and informed Walsh of the plans for the transfer of Gush Katif hothouses to Arab ownership in the context of the Disengagement Plan. According to Minister Peres' office, the deputy prime minister described to the American official negotiations currently underway with Holland to allow Israeli marketing of PA-grown flowers.
Today's Tel Aviv meeting is a preview for Minister Peres of a planned meeting with the economic coordinator for the "Quartet" - sponsors of the Road Map peace plan - outgoing World Bank president James Wolfensohn, Saturday night. Peres will discuss with Mr. Wolfensohn projects to rehabilitate the PA economy.