Israeli and Palestinian Transport Ministers signed Agreement on Joint Transport Office On Wednesday, September 21, in Jerusalem, the transport ministers of Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement for the establishment of a Joint Transport Office. The role of the Office will be to study and promote the implementation of projects of mutual interest, especially in the domain of road and railway transport. The agreement was facilitated by the European Commission and the Joint Transport Office will be supported financially by the European Union.
The signing of the agreement by Israeli transport minister Meir Sheetrit and Palestinian transport minister Saed el Din Kharma is the culmination of a process that began at the 5th Euro-Mediterranean Transport Forum held in Brussels on the 21st and 22nd of December 2004 where Israeli and Palestinian representatives expressed an interest in the establishment of a Joint Office for Transport infrastructures. Since that time the two sides, accompanied by European Commission officials, have met several times to discuss the relevant issues.
Reacting to today’s signature, Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner said:
“I warmly welcome today’s establishment of a Joint Transport Office and congratulate the two ministers for taking this positive step. Regional cooperation in the transport field is part of the Action Plans agreed with both Israel and the Palestinian Authority under the European Neighbourhood Policy. The Joint Transport Office will join a similar initiative that has already been developed in the energy domain. I would like to wish both sides every success in this new joint venture.”
The Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Transport Jacques Barrot also added:
“I consider this initiative very important. It will identify and promote key infrastructure projects within and between the Parties, thereby facilitating the transport of people and goods in the region. I am convinced that this type of technical cooperation can contribute very positively to the Peace Process.”
The specific activities of the Joint Transport Office as agreed by the parties will be :
- Initiate, identify, evaluate and promote thereafter the execution of transport infrastructure projects of mutual interest, among others for road and rail, including facilitation measures for the efficient transport of people and goods;
- Conducting joint analysis of such common projects (including feasibility studies) and providing related technical advice;
- Preparing proposals for agreed projects to be submitted for consideration by international financing institutions and other donors;
- Promoting the exchange of data and information related to the transport sector;
- Reinforcing administrative capacity building in the field of transport;
- Promoting regional transport