(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) The European Union agreed Tuesday to provide 7 million euros (US 9 million) for Palestinian development projects on a disputed area of the West Bank known as Area C, controlled by Israel.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement that, the agreement is aimed at supporting the Palestinian presence and promoting social and economic development in Area C, which we all know is of crucial importance for the economic viability of Palestine.
Israel has prevented Palestinians from developing Area C, which is home to all Israeli West Bank settlements, according to German news agency (DPA).
The funding pledge was signed by Ashton and Palestinian Prime Minister Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, hours before a Palestinian donor coordination group meeting was due to get underway in Brussels.
It comes alongside an EU action plan, agreed Monday, to "deepen our bilateral relations," Ashton said, including steps towards an association agreement with a future Palestinian state. "To us Palestinians, this represents a major leap forward in the direction of entering into a fully fledged association agreement with the EU as a fully sovereign and independent state of Palestine," Fayyad said, adding, "That day will come." He thanked Ashton for the "funding of projects with EU taxpayers' money in Area C, an area of vital importance to the viability - political and economic - of our state, Palestine."