European consortium pulls out of Gaza port project

The consortium was headed by Dutch construction firm Ballast Nedam. "The persistent insecurity in the Gaza Strip makes construction activity impossible," a statement from the Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

The Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry announced today that a French-Dutch building consortium has cancelled a project to build a port in the Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip because of a surge of violence, Reuters reports.

The port project, a key symbol of Palestinian aspirations for nationhood, was the target of an attack by Israeli tanks in September.

"The persistent insecurity in the Gaza Strip makes construction activity, which has been suspended since last October, impossible," a statement said.

The project south of Gaza City, designed to help boost economic development in Palestinian-ruled areas, was outlined in the Wye River peace accords in 1998 and revived during 1999 Middle East peace negotiations.

In mid-September, Israeli tanks flattened a series of one-storey structures housing 80 administrative offices for the seaport construction project.

The contract for the $70 million project was signed in April 2000 between the Palestinian Authority and the French-Dutch consortium European Gaza Development Group.

The project was funded by the Dutch and French governments, the European Investment Bank and the Palestinian Authority.

The Netherlands and France are currently in discussions with the Palestinian Authority regarding settlement of the project.

It was headed by Dutch construction firm Ballast Nedam and also included France's SpieBatignolles.

Published by Israel's Business Arena on December 4, 2001

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