While the battle for peace talks and statehood rumbles on, the EU has given its thumbs up to a trade deal with the Palestinian authority. It means that, starting from next year, Palestinian producers should in theory be able to export goods directly to Europe.
How this will be done without crossing Israeli check points is still unclear.
The agreement was overwhelmingly adopted in Strasbourg on Tuesday. Many MEPs said the move was about showing solidarity with the Palestinians bid for their own homeland.
Social Democrat MEP Maria Eleni Koppa said ‘‘It’s a huge opportunity for Palestinians and for the development and the future for the region. It’s also very important that it comes at this particular moment when the presence of a Palestinian state in the UN is discussed in New York. We have, as the European Union, to tell the Palestinians that we are on their side and that they have a right to statehood and for a viable state in the Middle East.’‘
The Palestinian Authority is at present the EU’s smallest trading partner in the Mediterranean and Middle East region. In 2009 total trade amounted to just over 56 million euros.
While fruit and vegetables are exempt, the deal will enable Palestinians to export farm and fish products for a least 10 years with the possibility of an extension after that date.