Israeli, Palestinian ministers meet for first time since U.S. Jerusalem recognition

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-31 02:36:37|Editor: yan
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JERUSALEM, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Israeli and Palestinian ministers and other senior officials met during a ceremony on Tuesday for the first time since the White House's recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Palestinian National Authority Economy Minister Abir Oudeh inaugurated a cargo scanning facility at the Allenby Crossing, an Israeli-controlled border crossing between Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Kahlon and Oudeh jointly cut a ribbon to launch the installation but it is not known if they exchanged more than pleasantries.

However, in a statement released by a spokesperson of the Israel Tax Authority, Kahlon said he is scheduled to meet with Palestinian National Authority (PNA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, in a meeting that would be the first meeting between high-rank Israeli officials in months.

"We intend to continue advancing several joint projects," said Kahlon.

The scanning facility is expected to double the number of containers that can be inspected from 100 to 200 per day, according to the Israel Tax Authority. The facility can be operated in all weather conditions, and will interface with Airports Authority systems, which will expedite the release of merchandise, according to the Tax Authority.

"The facility's rapid new processes will facilitate the transport of goods requiring refrigeration (for example), for which processing time is critical," the Authority said in the statement.

"It is anticipated that the installation will facilitate an increase in commercial activity at the crossing while improving and enhancing customs inspections, and providing efficient and quality service," the statement read.

Israel hopes that the facility "will give practical expression to commercial ties between the State of Israel and the PNA and also serve commerce between the PNA and Jordan," according to the statement.

The ceremony was attended also by representatives from the Jordanian government, European embassies, the U.S. embassy, the United Nations and the European Quartet to the Middle East.

The ceremony was a rare collaboration amidst heightened tensions in the region sparked by U.S. President Donald Trump's statement on December 6, in which he recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.