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18 December 2008

First anniversary of the International Donors’ Conference for the Palestinian state (December 17, 2008)

On December 17, 2007 France hosted the International Donors’ Conference for the Palestinian State. We chose that title because from the beginning it set the goal to be reached in parallel to the peace talks that were revived at the Annapolis conference: the establishment of a viable and modern Palestinian state.

In Paris the delegations of 87 countries and organizations, including Israel, supported the Palestinian reform and development plan prepared by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and committed to providing the Palestinian Authority with $7.7 billion for the 2008-2010 period.

As of December 17, 2008, nearly $1.7 billion in budget aid had been disbursed to the Palestinian Authority, more than the amounts pledged for the first year ($1.1 billion). Project aid is on the order of $600 to $700 million and humanitarian aid about $700 to $800 million which leads to an amount already disbursed of close to $3 billion.

Such amounts above what was promised are the tangible sign of an exceptional commitment by the international community. They can be explained by the mobilization of the Palestinian Authority, the role of the political follow-up mechanism chaired by Bernard Kouchner and set in place with Tony Blair, Jonas Stoere and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and by the involvement of the European Union and France. The resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on final status, thanks to the impetus given by the Annapolis Conference, has at last brought about a favorable context.

Using this aid the Palestinian Authority has reformed and modernized its public finances and security services, with results that have been hailed by the Quartet members. At the same time, 1,170 small projects have been set up in the West Bank and Gaza to improve the daily lives of Palestinians. Forty percent of the amounts collected serve to support the Gaza Strip—especially the salaries of 70,000 civil servants—which faces a serious economic and humanitarian crisis because of the Israeli blockade.

France will pursue its efforts in 2009, working on two priorities:

A meeting of the co-chairs of the political follow-up mechanism will be held on January 15 to assess the results of 2008 and outlines the prospects for 2009.

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