Statements on humanitarian assistance
AARON JACOB (Israel) said that since the launch of the peace process, Israeli governments had attached importance to the economic situation of the Palestinian people. His country had shown its readiness to make the necessary sacrifices to advance economic relations with the Palestinian Authority and the well-being of its people. During the past five years, there had been significant improvement in the Palestinian economy, Israel had concluded that in those periods where there had been a calm security situation the Palestinian economy had grown. A consistent and determined effort by the Palestinian Authority to fight terrorism made it easier for Israel and other parties to continue improvement of the Palestinian economic situation.
Beyond its efforts to reduce security closures to an absolute minimum, Israel had undertaken a number of pro-active initiatives to strengthen the Palestinian economy. He cited his Government’s policy of easing access for Palestinian workers to the Israeli labour market; working to strengthen the Palestinian private sector by encouraging investment in its enterprises, among other measures; transferring tax revenues amounting to $2 billion in accordance with the Paris Economic Annex to the Interim Agreement, a sum which represented about 60 per cent of the budget of the Palestinian Authority; making an additional commitment to provide $15 million to Palestine in the future, and establishing an industrial parks project that was expected to provide up to 50,000 jobs in the future.
He said other initiatives included the Bethlehem 2000 project, and the Safe Passage which would eventually enable the free flow of goods, labour and capital between the West Bank and Gaza.
On the issue of Israeli Palestinian development cooperation, he referred to the function of MASHAV -- the Center for International Cooperation of his country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry -- and said the underlying principle stemmed from Israel’s belief that peace would be secured only when it was rooted in the lives of the peoples in the region.
He said the burgeoning Israel-Palestinian peace process, and the agreements signed between the two parties, had brought a rapid expansion of development activities as donor support for the newly-established Palestinian Authority was viewed as an investment in the success of peace. Opportunities for future cooperation in the Middle East were endless, and Israel and the Palestinian Authority had already benefited in their ongoing cooperation.