JERUSALEM, Israel – The Trump administration marked the launch this week of 3G cellular services to two Palestinian mobile phone carriers aimed at "tangible improvement" for Arab residents of Judea and Samaria (a/k/a, the West Bank).
The announcement comes just two days after Palestinians snubbed Vice President Mike Pence on his Middle East tour. The Palestinian Authority called for a general strike during Pence's stay this week and refused to meet with the vice president over President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and pledge to move the US Embassy to the city.
The administration's special envoy Jason Greenblatt praised the deal on the US Consulate website, saying the American government "is proud to have worked closely" with Palestinian Authority officials, the Israeli government and the Office of the Quartet.
Greenblatt said the new services would empower entrepreneurship and innovation.
"Information and communication technology transcends borders," Greenblatt wrote, predicting that the new services would provide "a significant boost" to the P.A. economy by creating jobs and generating revenue.
"In today's globalized world, access to high-speed mobile services strengthens users' connections to the global community," he said, adding that "the U.S. government will continue discussions with all relevant stakeholders on facilitating more advanced technologies for both the West Bank and Gaza."
Greenblatt concluded by saying the US would continue working with Israelis and Palestinians "to improve the local economy, underscoring President Trump's efforts to achieve a comprehensive agreement. The road is not always smooth, but 3G is one example of what is possible when we work together."