Israel, Jordan, PA, Japan discuss expanding Jericho industrial zone

Israeli Minister of Economy, Eli Cohen, Jordanian Minister of Regional Cooperation, Imad Fakhouri, Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Malki and his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono have discussed a Japanese initiative to expand the industrial zone in Jericho, Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported on Tuesday.

According to the paper, Japan wants to expand the project to include 32 factories employing 5,000 workers, noting that the city of Jericho was chosen to host the project because it is close to Jordan and the Palestinian Authority can export goods to the Arab world through Amman especially to the Gulf states.

Israeli Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said the meeting aimed “to create an economic base for regional peace”.

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“As part of its efforts to integrate into regional peace, the Japanese government has promoted and funded the Jericho Agro Industrial Park, JAIP which currently includes nine factories” it said.

The paper sites the Israeli economy minister as saying that “the development of the industrial zone is in the interest of all parties, and our policy is to provide facilities where possible and make every effort to provide a normal life for those who do not participate in terrorism”.

Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe arrived on Tuesday in Tel Aviv where he will meet with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu. The Japanese official is accompanied by a delegation of Japanese businessmen.

Japan has in recent years expressed a growing desire to help promote the peace process between Tel Aviv and the Palestinian Authority.

This year, Tokyo proposed hosting Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with members of the US negotiating team for a special summit in Japan.