The AHLC reaffirmed its long-standing commitment to the vision of an independent, democratic and sovereign state of Palestine living side by side with Israel in peace and security, as well as their strong support for negotiations to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in full compliance with Road Map obligations.
Based on reports and recommendations from the parties, the UN, the World Bank, the IMF and the Quartet Representative to this meeting in New York, the donors reconfirmed their assessment of the state readiness of the Palestinian Authority regarding the institutions studied, and focused their further discussions on the Palestinian Authority’s fiscal sustainability and economic viability.
After three consecutive years of progress in the quality and functioning of the institutions, high levels of growth, improved living conditions and security in the West Bank, the economy grew at a slower rate. This slow-down can be attributed to falling donor support combined with the uncertainty caused by the Palestinian Authority’s fiscal crisis, as well as insufficient easing of Israeli restrictions. The reports to this meeting show that the economic benefits from reforms alone are reaching their potential.
During 2012, the Palestinian Authority is experiencing a severe fiscal crisis, due to shortfalls in domestic revenues, tax income, and donor contributions. It may face a financing gap of at least USD 400 million at the end of the year. Donors welcomed the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to strengthen its fiscal position, including taking the steps to raise domestic revenues and control expenditures. They noted the urgent need for additional support from donors to be disbursed immediately.
The donors also acknowledged the Israeli efforts to help alleviate the situation as outlined in the Israeli report, including by advancing transfers of clearance revenues. They welcomed the understanding reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on enhancing trade and clearance revenue collection.
Donors recognized that the Palestinian Authority cannot succeed in reducing the projected recurrent deficit to the currently expected levels of aid solely through its own actions. The reports to this meeting note that restrictions to the Palestinian economy are limiting the prospects for reaching sustainability.
Progress in strengthening the Palestinian Economy depends on further removal of obstacles to trade and market access in support of private sector development. In addition, it is important that all available Palestinian resources are further mobilized in a transparent, accountable and responsible way in order to overcome the current crisis.
Ultimately, sustainable economic growth and an end to the fiscal crisis will require greater realization of the Palestinian private sector’s potential. This can be achieved by relaxing Israeli restrictions on access to land, water, a range of raw materials, and export markets, and by further improvements by the Palestinian Authority in its business environment and ability to attract needed investment. Donors expressed their concern about access to economic activity in Area C, which constitutes the major land area for the Palestinians, and emphasized that greater economic potential will be achieved when access is assured.
The AHLC expressed concern for the situation in the Gaza Strip and reiterated its full commitment to the UN Security Council resolution 1860, including for the need for security for all civil populations. It took note of the predictions that the high levels of economic growth may come to an end soon. A lasting recovery in Gaza will require a further increase in exports and private sector imports of investment inputs, as well as lifting restrictions on the legitimate passage of people.
On this basis the AHLC:
- calls on donors to address the short-term fiscal crisis of the PA by disbursing outstanding commitments, and to increase their contributions for 2012 to match the need;
- calls on donors to remain committed to our vision of a future two-state solution, and to continue providing assistance to meet the recurrent financing requirements for the PA to help make the transition towards economic independence for a Palestinian state, with due regard to burden sharing;
- welcomes the PA’s decision to continue to reform and improve its institutions, so as to align revenues and disbursements and further enhance the business environment ,as an orderly path to future self-reliance;
- welcomes the understanding on enhancing the trade and clearance collection, calls on the parties for a swift implementation of the improvements needed, and expresses its readiness to assist in supporting this implementation;
- calls on the GOI to facilitate sustainable growth of the Palestinian economy – one that is underpinned by a vibrant private sector – by taking further and broader steps to improve movement of people and goods, development, and trade and exports in the West Bank and Gaza, including in Area C and East-Jerusalem;
- welcoming the increase in building materials for infrastructure development and housing allowed into Gaza, calls for increased efforts, including implementation of medium and long-term solutions to the water supply;
- calls on the Joint Liaison Committee to resume efforts to facilitate coordination locally with a view to ensuring effective progress on the ground; and
- agrees to reconvene in Brussels in March 2013 on invitation by the EU
The EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah welcome the Palestinian local elections held on 20 October and commend the work of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission.
The EU Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah had the opportunity to visit polling stations across the West Bank. The elections were well organized and took place in a peaceful atmosphere. The EU considers the holding of elections as an important contribution to Palestinian state-building and looks forward to future elections across the occupied Palestinian territory.
The Norwegian Representative Office aligns itself with the above statement.
I am very concerned by the latest escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel.
I condemn the firing of rockets and mortars into Israel, and call on both sides to refrain from exacerbating the situation. Further regrettable loss of life and injury must be avoided.
I support the mediation efforts by Egypt and reiterate that there is no place for violence in the Middle East. It is only through resumed negotiations that the legitimate aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis will be met, through a two-state solution.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Thursday, 29 November 2012), at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, made the following statement:
"Israel is prepared to live in peace with a Palestinian state, but for peace to endure, Israel's security must be protected. The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all.
None of these vital interests, these vital interests of peace, none of them appear in the resolution that will be put forward before the General Assembly today and that is why Israel cannot accept it. The only way to achieve peace is through agreements that are reached by the parties directly; through valid negotiations between themselves, and not through UN resolutions that completely ignore Israel’s vital security and national interests. And because this resolution is so one-sided, it doesn’t advance peace, it pushes it backwards.
As for the rights of the Jewish people in this land, I have a simple message for those people gathered in the General Assembly today: No decision by the UN can break the 4000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel."
I welcome the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and Israel. I commend in particular the efforts of Egypt and all those who engaged in mediating between the parties to secure this ceasefire. The European Union will continue its efforts to ensure a sustainable solution to the present situation in the Gaza Strip. This is crucial for ending all violence and enhancing security in the region.
I am extremely concerned by reports of the Israeli government's announcement regarding the construction of approximately 3000 new housing units in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem. The European Union has repeatedly stated that all settlement construction is illegal under international law and constitutes an obstacle to peace.
“On Thursday, speaking on behalf of the European Union as a whole and ahead of the decision of the UN General Assembly to accord Observer State status to Palestine, I urged both parties to work towards the resumption of direct negotiations without delay or preconditions. I called on all involved to pursue actions which could build confidence, not undermine it.
“I am therefore extremely worried by the prospects of settlement expansion on such a scale. The reaction of the international community to any such decision is likely also to be influenced by the extent to which such expansion may represent a strategic step undermining the prospects of a contiguous and viable Palestine with Jerusalem as the shared capital of both it and Israel.
“I repeat my call on Thursday to Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to work towards a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with renewed purpose. Both have previously stated their willingness to do so. I ask the government of Israel to show its commitment to the early renewal of negotiations to end the conflict and the occupation by not taking forward these plans.
-We have just heard a briefing from Mr Jeffrey Feltman about the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories. The current stalemate in the Peace Process is a source of great concern to us.
France, Germany, Portugal and the United Kingdom underscore that sustainable peace will only be achieved through a just and lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security and mutual recognition.
France, Germany, Portugal and the United Kingdom are extremely concerned by and strongly oppose the plans by Israel to expand settlement construction in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, and in particular plans to develop the E1 area. If implemented, these plans would jeopardize the possibility of a contiguous, sovereign, independent and viable Palestinian State and of Jerusalem as the future capital of both Israel and Palestine. The reported planning in the E1 area would risk cutting off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and could also entail the forced transfer of civilian population.
We are also deeply disappointed by 17th December announcement regarding the approval of 1500 housing units in the East Jerusalem district of Ramat Shlomo and today’s announcement of 2610 housing units in Givat Hamatos. We are also concerned about reports of an additional 1000 housing units over the Green Line, including in Har Homa and Givat Ze’ev, being tendered.
Israel’s announcements to accelerate the construction of settlements send a negative message and are undermining faith in its willingness to negotiate.
The viability of the two-state solution that is key for Israel’s long-term security is threatened by the systematic expansion of settlements. Settlements are illegal under international law and detrimental to any international efforts to restart peace negotiations and secure a two-state solution. All settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem, must cease immediately.
We call on the Israeli government to rescind these plans and recall that we will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.
The viability of the two-state solution is at stake and must be preserved. A bold demonstration of political will and leadership is needed from both sides to break the current impasse and resume negotiations. To make urgent progress towards the shared goal of a two state solution, parties must engage in direct and substantial negotiations without pre-conditions.
All parties must avoid unilateral acts which undermine confidence and the viability of the two-state solution. We call on Israel to avoid any step undermining the financial situation on the Palestinian authority. Any such action by Israel would undermine existing cooperation mechanisms between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and thus negatively affect the prospects of negotiations. We also call on the Palestinian leadership to use constructively their new status within the United Nations with the view to early resumption of direct and meaningful negotiations.
France, Germany, Portugal and the UK welcome that President Abbas has publicly rejected the recent inflammatory statements by Hamas leaders that deny Israel’s right to exist, and that he has stated clearly the position of the legitimate Palestinian leadership which has accepted the State of Israel in the borders of 1967 France, Germany, Portugal and the United Kingdom reiterate their fundamental commitment to the security of Israel, including with regard to vital threats in the region.
But the responsibility lies also with the international community, and notably the Security Council, to provide urgently for a credible framework for the resumption of direct talks. We remain ready to contribute to renewed, structured and substantial peace efforts, together with the US, members of the Quartet and other international and regional stakeholders, and reaffirm our position that clear parameters outlining the basis for negotiations, as stated in our E4 December 2011 press statement and set out by the European Union in December 2009, December 2010 and May 2011, are key to such an outcome.
We believe that Israel’s security and the realization of the Palestinians’ right to statehood are not opposing goals. On the contrary they are mutually reinforcing objectives. But they will not be achieved while settlement building continues. The only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ending all claims, is one that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and that fulfils the aspiration of both parties towards the shared goal of a two-state solution.