Palestine Calls for An International Conference to Amend Paris Protocol

Ramallah, MINA – Palestine called for an international conference to amend the Paris Economic Agreement with Israel and mobilize international support for the Palestinian economy in the face of the repercussions of the Coronavirus pandemic, Wafa reported.

It came in the speech of Finance Minister Shukri Bishara on Tuesday, during a hypothetical meeting of the Committee for the Coordination of International Aid to the Palestinians.

“It has been 26 years since the implementation of the Paris Protocol and the time has come to reform its working methods and its provisions,” Bishara said, adding, “It is a matter of our economic survival.”

He added that “the protocol adds more restrictions on the arms of the local (Palestinian) economy and Israel uses its provisions to achieve its interests.”

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Norway chairs the Aid Coordination Committee, which includes Arab and European countries, in addition to the Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The United States is a member of the committee and participated in the meeting for the first time since it boycotted and stopped aid to the Palestinian people in 2018.

Bishara called on donors to “restore momentum to international financial aid to the budget at an average of 800 million to one billion dollars annually, as it was in 2013.”

He pointed out that the volume of international aid to the Palestinian budget in 2020 did not exceed 350 million dollars.

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He said, “During 2020, the economy shrank by 11 percent, financial grants decreased by 33 percent compared to 2019, and all its revenues decreased by 20 percent due to the challenges imposed by the Coronavirus pandemic.”

The Palestinian budget deficit reached 9.5 percent of GDP last year, while the domestic public debt reached 15 percent, up from 13 percent in 2019.

Bishara added that the unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip was more than 50 percent during the year 2020, while it reached 19 percent in the West Bank.

He considered that the government’s task at the present time is to restore local economic momentum, indicating that it is “a task that will not be easy due to the negative developments on the economy during the past two years,” referring to the clearing crises and the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Bishara sent donors positive signals, represented in the implementation of structural reforms and the announcement of the tax strategy for the years 2021-2025, which depends on the horizontal numerator of taxes and the reduction of the phenomenon of tax evasion, and the budget for the year 2021 depends on the government’s orientations to coexist with the Coronavirus pandemic and support economic recovery, and the optimal use of available resources In a way that guarantees the provision of basic services to citizens, supports their steadfastness, and supports development. (T/RE1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)