Israel and the Palestinian Authority have signed an agreement for the installation of a 3G cellular network in the West Bank.
The memorandum of understanding was signed on Thursday between Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the government's Coordinator of Activities in the occupied territories and the PA's Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh.
The office of the coordinator expects that the agreement will assist the development of the cellular business in the West Bank and increase the number of Palestinians employed by Palestinian cellular companies.
There are currently only two such companies in the West Bank – Wataniya and Jawwal – which together employ some 3,400 people. According to Israeli estimates, there are some 3.4 million cellular subscribers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
"The decision was taken after security consultations and the completion of preparatory work with the Communications Ministry," the coordinator's office said in a statement. According to a security source, the cellular agreement is not a confidence building measure for the Palestinians.
Rolling out the new network could increase Palestinian revenues by tens of millions of dollars, according to Israeli estimates.
It's unclear when the measure will go into effect. Palestinians have had 2G access since 1998.
The agreement will not extend 3G frequencies to the Gaza Strip, nor will it allow for 4G data transmission.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, says it's meant to facilitate economic development.
Under interim peace agreements, Israeli authorities control cellular networks in the West Bank.
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