Ma’an News Agency reported today that in an attempt to develop the Palestinian economy, Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad is due to meet with various businessmen and economists from the district of Hebron today. Ma’an adds that a source has claimed that Fayyad is likely to announce the transformation of the District of Hebron into a free trade zone. This would lead to a loss of $3 million annually for the Ministry of Finance, who therefore have some concerns about such a decision. Nevertheless transforming Hebron into a free trade zone would lead to an increase in the Palestinian Authority’s income of $10 million each year.

The Hebron Protocol 94 divided the city of Hebron between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. This division has stymied economic life in Hebron. Yet Hebron continues to be important to the Palestinian economy as it exports 27% of Palestinian exports and imports 18%.

Since Fayyad took office, he has been keen to visit all Palestinian provinces to understand the needs and grievances of all Palestinians so that he can try to address them and reassure Palestinians of the stability and support of the PA.

The Council of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Hebron carried out a study which looked at the transformation of the old city of Hebron into a free trade zone, a suggestion made by businessmen and economists in the Hebron area last year. The report has been forwarded to the PA.

Other ideas have been put forward with respect to Hebron’s economic status. For example some in the municipality of Hebron have called for the transformation of the city into a tourist area where a range of products could be sold.