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Israeli PM Calls for Stronger Palestinian Economy

VOA News 27 May 2010

Israel's prime minister says strengthening the Palestinian economy could give the peace process a needed boost.

Benjamin Netanyahu told the French newspaper Le Figaro Thursday that developing the Palestinian economy is one of the region's current challenges, but he did not give any details.

The Israeli prime minister is in Paris for a ceremony to welcome Israel, Estonia and Slovenia into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The group analyzes data for some of the world's top industrialized nations and serves as a forum for ideas on promoting economic growth.

Palestinians had urged the OECD to reject Israel's bid for membership. Critics argued allowing Israel to join would go against the group's commitment to human rights.

Some economists say joining the OECD could help Israeli companies raise money from investors.

Mr. Netanyahu will travel to the United States for a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama next week.

Mr. Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, delivered the invitation to the Israeli leader Wednesday in Jerusalem. Emanuel said the talks would focus of shared security concerns.

The U.S. has been mediating indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians in an effort to revive the peace process.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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