Donors warn Israel and Palestinians: Make peace or lose economic aid
International donors to the Palestinian Authority (PA) warned of a possible drop in financial support unless serious measures are taken to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The donors opened a high-level meeting in Rome, Italy, on December 10, 2003, to discuss the Palestinian budget, which is largely funded by foreign aid. Palestinian officials were seeking commitments to the $1.2 billion pledged by 14 donor delegations last year.
Many speakers voiced impatience with the continuing cycle of violence in the region, asserting that Israeli military strikes have destroyed many donor projects in the West Bank and Gaza. “If this does not change, governments will have to reconsider their commitments and priorities,” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen.
The donors called on Israel to take immediate steps to ease the humanitarian plight of the Palestinians in accordance with the US-brokered Road Map peace plan, as well as to create a more predictable and secure operating environment for the donor and aid community. Representatives also stressed that the PA must take more decisive measures against terror and continue to forge ahead with reform.
Delegates voiced concerns over the critical economic and humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories and ongoing impediments to the delivery of aid to the Palestinian people.
The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for the West Bank and Gaza (AHLC) was established to ensure the efficient use of development assistance in support of the peace process and contribute to the development of Palestinian society. In this spirit, the donors attended a presentation on the 2004 Budget of the PA and on its 2004-5 Socio-Economic Stabilization Plan.
Donors announced at the conclusion of the metting that the establishment of a special trust fund to help alleviate a $650 million shortfall in the Palestinian Authority (PA) budget will be explored.
Participants in the AHLC included Norway, the EU, the US, Japan, Canada, Jordan, Russia, Saudi Development Fund, the Arab League, the UN, Egypt, the Islamic Development Bank, Tunisia, the IMF and the World Bank, the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)