Ma'an News Agency
February 19, 2010 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Authority plans to include Area C in it strategic planning in an effort to lay the groundwork for a future state, Tourism Minister Khouloud Deibes said on Thursday.

Deibes made this remark following a meeting in Jericho with a visiting delegation from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

She also said her ministry is committed to attracting private sector investment to tourism-related projects in the West bank, particularly north of the Dead Sea, and also attract more tourists to the area.

The minister led the delegation on a tour of archaeological sites in the Jericho area, including Tel As-Sultan, and Hisham’s Palace, which is under renovation. She said the PA is working to have Jericho, a 10,000-year-old city, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Oslo Peace agreements of the 1990s ceded certain parts of the West Bank to the PA. Most large cities, with the exclusion of Jerusalem, are in Area A, under full Palestinian control. Area B is under mixed control, while much of the West Bank remains in Area C, under full Israeli military control.

Also on Thursday Robert Serry, the UN special envoy to the Middle East peace process, said that the international community would pressure Israel to cede parts of the occupied West Bank to Palestinian Authority control.

Serry said the International Quartet, made up of the UN, EU, US and Russia, will express support for PA demands on the Israeli government to transfer Areas B and of the West Bank C into A.

Speaking during a visit to the West Bank city of Hebron, which is divided between PA security autonomy and Israeli military control, Serry told Ma'an, "if Israel is serious about the peace process, and the two-state solution, and wants to see an end to the occupation, we should back Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's successful program."

A report from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released in December said that Israel has all but banned Palestinian construction in most of Area C, posing a serious obstacle to development.


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