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Rice Urges Donors To Join in Supporting Palestinian Authority

17 December 2007

United States pledges $555 million in Palestinian assistance for 2008

Washington -- Nations must match their commitments to Middle East peace made at the November 27 Annapolis Conference with financial contributions for creating a future Palestinian state, says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

“Words and promises of support are helpful, but that alone is insufficient.  Progress requires action, and it requires tangible financial assistance,” Rice said during a high-level international donors' conference in Paris December 17.

Among the many challenges facing the Palestinian Authority since it and Israel agreed to restart peace talks at last month's Annapolis Conference is a looming budget crisis that undermines its ability to create the conditions and institutions needed for statehood.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad asked about 90 nations and international organizations at the donors' conference for an additional $5.6 billion over the next three years to implement the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan.  The wide-ranging package of reforms is aimed at confronting economic challenges by strengthening governing institutions, improving the delivery of services to Palestinian communities and setting the stage for statehood. (See related article.)

Rice praised Fayyad’s plan as “ambitious but realistic,” and announced that the United States would contribute $555 million toward assistance for the Palestinians in 2008, the largest single-nation contributor at the conference and second only to a $650 million pledge for 2008 from the European Union.       

Subject to approval from Congress, Rice’s aid announcement also would include $400 million in humanitarian aid and loans for Palestinian businesses announced by President Bush in July. (See related article.)

“The vitality of the Palestinian Authority and the success of the Palestinian people are in the interest of all who seek peace, and security, and a two-state solution in the Middle East,” Rice said.  “Now is the time for the international community to make good on its promises of support for these goals, and for the Palestinians who share them.”

In all, the conference exceeded Fayyad’s request, raising $7.4 billion in donors' pledges, $3.8 billion of which is expected in 2008, according to French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in news reports.

The one-day conference was sponsored by the French government and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the representative of the Quartet for Middle East peace.  The Quartet is composed of the United Nations, European Union, Russia and the United States.

The U.S. contribution represents an increase in assistance that will be linked to specific economic development and security goals outlined in Fayyad’s plan, Rice said. The United States also will continue to be a leading donor to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency’s aid programs for Palestinian refugees. (See related article.)   

A transcript of Rice’s remarks is available on USINFO.

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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