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    Turkish government to play a role in Erez industrial zone

    Hürriyet Haber
    02.01.2006 - 11:12 | Son Güncelleme:

    Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul is scheduled to arrive Thursday to sign separate joint declarations with Israel and the Palestinian Authority governing a Turkish role in resurrecting the Erez industrial area, reported the Jerusalem Post on Monday. According to Turkish officials, Gul was deterred neither by the growing anarchy in the Gaza Strip nor by the fact that the industrial area is located inside what is now the "no-go" zone Israel has mandated to prevent the launching of Kassam rockets toward Ashkelon, said the Israeli daily.

    According to the source, Turkish officials said that the Turkish government "wants to push the button" on the project now, knowing that it would take months before it would come to fruition. One Israeli official described the project as "the baby" of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    Under the plan, the Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) would manage the Erez industrial zone, and there would be major Turkish investment in plants there that would manufacture goods that would then be able to enter the EU, US and even Persian Gulf countries duty free. The hope is that both Palestinian and Israeli businessmen would also invest in this area which, before the outbreak of violence in September 2000, provided employment for thousands of Palestinian workers.

    The idea for Turkish management of the site was launched at a meeting of high-level Turkish, Israeli and Palestinian business leaders in Ankara last April at the formation of what has become known as the Ankara Forum.

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