Ma'an News Agency
March 15, 2010 - 12:00am

Bethlehem - Ma'an - The US government signed two grant agreements on Monday in support of Rawabi, the first Palestinian planned city outside Ramallah, and to the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Finance.

The grants, offered by the US Trade and Development Agency (TDA) Awards Grants, will go toward two projects for technical assistance to develop an IT master plan for the new city, and a tertiary waste water treatment feasibility study for Rawabi and surrounding communities, a statement said.

Signed by TDA's acting director Leocadia Lee Zak, US Consul General in Jerusalem Daniel Rubinstein, and Bayti Real Estate CEO Bashar Masri, 413,000 US dollars will be designated for the IT project, while 274,000 US dollars for the waste treatment study.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, the acting director of TDA and the consul general each stressed the US's support for the PA's efforts to address the shortage of affordable housing for the growing Palestinian population, and for caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's program to build the institutions of a Palestinian state, the statement said.

Masri noted, "The company's challenge is to balance the need to build housing that is affordable to the average Palestinian with the need to protect and preserve the environment; some of the most advanced technologies are still too expensive to practically incorporate into a city designed to be affordable to young families."

The businessman also underscored the pivotal role that a highly developed ICT infrastructure will play in absorbing the well-educated but underemployed Palestinian workforce.

Later this month, USTDA will also sign a 558,000 US dollar grant to support technical assistance for the PA Ministry of Finance's General Petroleum Corporation (GPC). "The grant will help define a strategy to improve GPC's physical infrastructure and the institutional administration. Our goal is to help improve transparency and accountability of the petroleum sector, a key part of the institution building necessary for the future state of Palestine," said Rubinstein.

USTDA is an independent US government foreign assistance agency that aims to advance economic development in developing and middle-income countries by providing access to American technology and expertise. USTDA provides grant funding for capacity building and projects that support the development of modern infrastructure and an open trading system.

In addition to the Rawabi and Ministry of Finance grants, USTDA projects in the occupied Palestinian territories include an Internet data center feasibility study, funding for an orientation visit by marble and stone companies to the United States, and a feasibility study grant for a renewable energy company.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017