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Dutch to help build Gaza gas pipeline: Israeli PM

AFP , Tuesday 6 Sep 2016
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016 (Photo: AP)
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The Netherlands will help Israel boost energy and water supplies to Gaza including by building a gas pipeline, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

"We want to help the population of Gaza and the first step is to improve the supply of energy and water... including laying a gas pipeline," Netanyahu said during a two-day visit to The Netherlands.

After talks with his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte, Netanyahu said his cabinet had already made a decision to lay the pipeline "and I appreciate your help in realising this project."

Rutte said his country had already invested in a feasibility study for a gas pipeline from Israel to the impoverished Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip.

The Netherlands would also facilitate expert meetings between Dutch, Israeli and Palestinian officials focusing on energy and water, he told a joint press conference.

"The aim of these meetings is to improve the Palestinian economy, but equally it provides for a more fertile ground for political negotiations between the two parties," added Rutte.

"I realise it's not going to be easy, but we need to keep on moving," he stressed.

Netanyahu was also asked about the postponement of a long-anticipated meeting with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, which Abbas had said was planned to be held in Moscow on Friday.

Abbas earlier Tuesday announced that Netanyahu had suggested delaying the Russian-backed gathering.

Netanyahu said he had no problem meeting Abbas in "Holland or in Moscow" as long as there were no preconditions set for the meeting by the Palestinian side.

"The real question is whether Abu Mazen (Abbas) is willing to meet us without preconditions and we are hearing conflicting reports on that," Netanyahu said, speaking in Hebrew.

"If Abu Mazen agrees to meet me directly without preconditions, I am willing at any time, as I have said for seven years, and if he accepts, that meeting will take place," he said.

Peace efforts have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.

The last substantial public meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu is thought to have been in 2010, though there have been unconfirmed reports of secret meetings since then.

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