Turkey focuses on projects in Gaza following agreement with Israel

HAZAL ATEŞ
ANKARA
Published 27.06.2016 22:10
Updated 27.06.2016 22:11
Palestinian children climb on a portable tank used to distribute water in el-Zohor slum, on the outskirts of Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip.
Palestinian children climb on a portable tank used to distribute water in el-Zohor slum, on the outskirts of Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip.

After Turkey and Israel signed an agreement to normalize relations, Turkish companies plan to make infrastructure and business investments in Gaza, expected to be worth at least $1 billion

Gaza's doors are opening to Turkish companies after Turkey and Israel's agreement on the normalization of ties. Out of a total of $5 billion in international funds for Palestinian development, $3.5 billion has been earmarked for Gaza, which has been under an Israeli blockade for 10 years, and the remaining $1.5 billion has been earmarked for Ramallah. Turkish companies are expected to undertake at least $1 billion worth of projects in Gaza. The contract process for the Erez Industrial Zone in Jenin will start in September. The Turkish business world will take the first step with a strategic invigoration plan for Gaza, which has a population of 2 million living in 360 square kilometers. The Israeli government will allow entrance and exit from the industrial zone to be established near the port in Jenin where Israeli, Palestinian and Turkish investors will operate and provide jobs for 10,000 people. Turkey will provide occupational training for Palestinians while Israel will provide electricity and water for the industrial zone.

First step for Gaza

With the normalization of ties, strained after the Mavi Marmara raid, the two countries have turned a new page both in economic relations and regarding Gaza. Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said bilateral economic and commercial relations will continue to gain strength, adding: "We see no harm in bringing Turkey's interest to the maximum level in commercial and military relations. Palestine's interests are Turkey's interests. It is pleasing that bilateral relations will gain strength."

As part of the talks, Turkey will first send humanitarian aid ships to Gaza before Eid al-Fitr. This will be the first time Israel will have let through civilian materials, including humanitarian aid to Gaza, after the offensive on Gaza in 2014.

Three important steps to be taken

The process of normalization of bilateral relations will be seen from airports to Ramallah, visits to Gaza and in investments. Turkish firms will be prioritized in Gaza's reconstruction, particularly regarding infrastructure, and the embargo will be eased, especially for Turkish firms.

Industrial zone operations in Palestine will escalate. About 10,000 people will be employed in the industrial zone in Jenin constructed by Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB). The establishment of the Jenin industrial zone was calculated in recent months, and its master plan was prepared. While the final approval phase for the industrial zone is approaching, the contracting process will start in September. The Israeli government will facilitate the entrance and exit of goods in the Jenin industrial zone next to the port.

Israeli, Palestinian and Turkish investors will operate in this region. While Turkey will share its experience in developing industrial zones, young Palestinians will be able to take vocational courses.

Israel to provide power, water

Israel will meet the region's power and water requirements. An area of 950,000 square meters will be surrounded with fences and administration buildings will be built. After the completion of the construction plans, the administration will set off on an international promotion tour. While an international fund of $3.5 billion was set aside for Gaza, Turkey has prepared its project portfolio eyeing Gaza's revival. Israel will provide steel and cement required for urban transformation operations. Turkey will apply for the construction of the Gaza Port.

Regarding the agreement signed between Turkey and Israel, Foreign Economic Relations Board Chairman Ömer Cihad Vardan said the deal will positively contribute to the trade and investment relations between the two countries, as well as supporting the political and economic future of their region.

Speaking on behalf of Turkish business communities, Vardan noted that the deal will create new opportunities to ensure the security of energy supply and diversify energy source in the region, adding that new business cooperation will be formed, particularly in the fields of energy, construction, infrastructure and tourism.

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