US President Bill Clinton, meanwhile, said he would seek an additional $400 million from the US Congress "to assist the Palestinian people—to help create jobs, improve basic education, enhance access to water, support the rule of law. Citing the Palestinians "extremely difficult" living conditions, Clinton said that, "no peace stands a chance of lasting if it does not deliver real results to ordinary people."
Wolfensohn, in his statement to the conference, said that the Bank was proud of the role it had played in West Bank and Gaza and that continued economic development was the key to peace.
International assistance to support economic development in the West Bank and Gaza was launched in 1993. At that time, donors pledged $2.4 billion over five years. Since then, a further $1.8 billion was pledged for a total of about $4 billion.
The Bank will chair a Consultative Group meeting on aid to the Palestinian Authority in Europe in February, to follow up on pledges from the November 30 conference and help donors match donor aid to specific sectors and development projects.
Bank's Role in West Bank and Gaza
The World Bank's role in the West Bank and Gaza has evolved since November 1992, when the co-sponsors of the Middle East Multilateral Peace Talks, the government of Israel, and the Palestinians, asked the institution to provide analytical, technical and financial leadership to a program of international assistance to the Palestinian economy.
In 1993, the Bank published a major study entitled, "Developing the Occupied Territories: An Investment in Peace."
In October 1993, the Bank's Executive Directors approved the establishment of the Trust Fund for Gaza with an initial allocation of $50 million. Three additional $90 million replenishments of this trust fund (subsequently expanded to include areas in the West Bank under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority) were approved in 1995, 1997, and 1998.
The Trust Fund for Gaza and the West Bank has anchored Bank support to the Palestinians. These projects are financed by $230.5 million from the trust fund as well as by approximately $350 million in joint and parallel co-financing. The Bank and the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the Bank, are working together on three of these, namely the Microenterprise Project, the Gaza Industrial Estate Project, and the Housing Project. IFC's portfolio includes $75 million in loans and equity investments in projects and in a Small Enterprise Fund (SEF). In January 1998, the IFC, in partnership with Palestinian and Israeli investors, launched a Peace Technology Fund worth over $100 million to provide venture capital for investments in the West Bank and Gaza. The Multilateral Investment Garantee Agency, the Bank affiliate that offers insurance against noncommercial risk, is also working with other members of the World Bank Group through the Palestinian Investment Guarantee Fund.
The Bank also coordinates bilateral and multilateral aid to the Palestinian Authority, including administering a $265 million multi-donor program for emergency budget support and job creation, the Holst Fund. For more information, call Nicholas Krafft, 202-473-2626, fax 477-7511, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.