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Donors' Conference Can Reinforce Palestinian-Israeli Efforts

13 December 2007

Paris donors' meet December 17

Washington -- The December 17 international, high-level donors' conference in Paris is an opportunity for the global community to reinforce its support for a resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and an opportunity for the Palestinians to show their genuine desire for statehood, according to senior U.S. officials.

And in addition to U.S. funding for the Palestinian Territories already sought by President Bush in the 2008 federal budget, an additional $375 million is being requested in an emergency supplemental budget to further advance assistance.  This includes project assistance through the U.S. Agency for International Development, budgetary support, funding for security reform and assistance for Palestinian refugees, says Robert Danin, deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.

"A significant U.S. contribution will send a signal to the other donors ... that now is the time to assist the Palestinian Authority, and that a Palestinian government with the full and public support of the international community will help build a constituency for peace," Danin said in recent congressional testimony.

Following up on the conference held in Annapolis, Maryland, in late November, delegations from approximately 90 nations and organizations are expected to meet in Paris December 17 to hear the Palestinian Authority present its reform and economic development program that is designed to launch the territories toward nation status.

According to published news reports, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to request from foreign donors approximately $5.8 billion in aid through 2010, of which the majority would be used for governmental operating expenses.  The International Monetary Fund also is reviewing the reform and development package.

"This is an opportunity for the international community to signal very strongly that it intends to make sure that the resources are there for the Palestinian government under [Prime Minister] Salam Fayyad to provide for the Palestinian people and to begin to provide a framework in which economic development can flourish," says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who will attend the Paris meeting.  Until there is a functioning Palestinian economy, it is going to take considerable international financial support, and everyone understands that, she says.

While in Paris, Rice will meet with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, Quartet Representative Tony Blair and other senior foreign officials.  The Quartet for Middle East Peace includes the United Nations, European Union, Russia and the United States.

Palestinian and Israeli negotiators began talks December 12 in Jerusalem and plan to meet continuously until an accord is reached by a projected target of the end of 2008.  Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have agreed to meet every two weeks to follow up on the talks and offer necessary assistance and direction.

President Bush July 16 announced that the United States was providing $190 million in assistance, including humanitarian relief funding for Gaza, and $220 million in lending for Palestinian businesses through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. (See related article.)

"I think the regional developments have also galvanized and concentrated many of the countries in the region.  They recognize that there's an opportunity cost here, that there's a price of inactivity, that failure to support the Palestinian Authority, failure for this effort to move forward, could have dire consequences not just for Israel and the Palestinians, but for themselves as well," Danin said.

Danin advised the congressional committee that all U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Territories has been and will continue being governed by strict accountability and oversight.

The full text of Danin’s congressional testimony as prepared for delivery is available on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Web site.

For more information, see The Middle East: A Vision for the Future.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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