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15 September 2005
Prime Minister Martin welcomes Israel’s pullout and pledges additional support for the Palestinian Authority
September 15, 2005
New York, New York
Prime Minister Paul Martin today offered his congratulations on the Israeli pullout and pledged $24.5 million in additional Canadian assistance to help strengthen the capacity of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and improve the lives of the Palestinian people.
“This is a historic occasion for the Middle East Peace Process,” said Prime Minister Paul Martin. “Israel deserves congratulations for its successful withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank.”
“Now, we have a unique opportunity to help Palestinians work toward a lasting prosperity and peace-by partnering with the Palestinian Authority to help build a better, more secure society,” said the Prime Minister.
The months ahead will be critical as the PA works to rebuild the economy and public institutions in the West Bank and Gaza, and to ensure that the Palestinian people feel the immediate benefits of Israel’s withdrawal.
The foundation of a vibrant Palestinian economy and improved living standards will be a framework that includes democracy, the rule of law, strong public administration and good governance.
“All this will not come easily, but it will come, with the aid of Canada and the international community and the hard work of the Palestinian leadership and people,” said Prime Minister Martin.
“Support for the institution building and reform efforts of President Abbas is key,” the Prime Minister added. “Canada and the international community expect the PA to do its utmost to ensure law and order and good governance.”
During the visit of President Abbas to Ottawa in May, the Prime Minister announced $12.2 million in enhanced Canadian assistance to the Palestinians as an important step toward supporting the reconstruction of the economy and society.
“Our announcement in May was a first step. Canada has prepared further measures of support in three sectors: security and safety, governance, and economic development and private sector-and we will do more,” said the Prime Minister.
The support package also includes new measures as part of Canada’s ongoing efforts to improve the lives of Palestinian refugees and to create the conditions that will lead to a negotiated agreement on the refugee issue. As custodian of the refugee issue, Canada plays a prominent role in the search for a viable and comprehensive solution.
Canada continues to work with both parties to ensure that the Israeli withdrawal leads to a reinvigoration of the Quartet’s Roadmap process and an eventual two state solution: Israel and a sovereign, independent, viable, democratic and territorially contiguous Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security.
Today’s announcement brings the total figure for Canada’s increased assistance to the Palestinian people to $36.7 million and reinforces Canada’s longstanding commitment to peace in the Middle East. Since 1993, Canada has provided over $310 million in assistance to Palestinians throughout the region.
The backgrounder that follows provides a breakdown of new funding, and an update on the initial $12.2 million.
Backgrounder on New Funding and Status Report on May Funding
Security and Safety Sector ($4.5 million)
4.5 million to assist the Palestinian Coastal Police (PCP) with the provision of boats and associated materiel necessary to meet its responsibilities concerning security of the Gaza coastline and enhancing maritime safety in waters under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Building on their past relationship with the PCP, the Canadian Coast Guard, in conjunction with other Canadian authorities, will also assist in providing the expertise necessary to ensure the success of this project.
Governance Sector ($7 million)
Up to $2 million in an enhanced Canadian contribution to assist Palestinian municipalities in addressing the challenges and opportunities arising from the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), in partnership with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Gaza Municipalities of Rafah and Khan Yunis, has already invested some $5 million in this sector since 1998.
$5 million for capacity building to the Palestinian Ministry of Education. Funded through UNICEF, the project will improve teaching methods across the West Bank and Gaza. Canada’s contribution will help train 4,000 teachers.
Economic Development and Private Sector ($5 million)
Up to $5 million for Palestinian business development and trade facilitation through a program of assistance to the Palestine Trade Centre (PalTrade), the Palestinian national trade development organization for the West Bank and Gaza. Canada will be working with PalTrade to build capacity, share expertise and develop new tools and skills in order to position Palestinian exporters to compete in and access regional and global markets.
Refugee Sector ($7.85 million)
$6 million to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s efforts to provide up to 1,300 micro credit loans, 2,000 temporary jobs, and training to 1,800 entrepreneurs to improve the living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Gaza. Canada’s contribution will be immediately felt by the refugee community.
Up to $2 million in additional funding to the Expert Advisory Services Fund to support Canada’s leadership role on the refugee file and facilitate policy research and dialogue to pave the way for informed discussions as part of any future negotiations concerning refugee issues. The project is implemented by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
Status Report on May $12.2 (now $13.2) Million Package
Security and Safety Sector
The deployment of four military liaison officers to the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai began with the deployment of a lieutenant colonel on June 15, 2005. Three majors will deploy once Egypt deploys 750 border guards along the Philadelphi corridor.
Governance Sector ($6.7 million)
The $5 million announced for justice reform and the rule of law is in progress. The initiatives are:
- The University of Windsor project in support of judicial independence and human dignity is being launched in September 2005 with a strategic planning exercise in the West Bank.
- Canada’s contribution in support of the PA Presidential Steering Committee has now been delivered: this will allow the deployment of legal experts to its secretariat and to the PA Ministry of Justice, helping the latter to establish its first branch office in the West Bank.
- The inaugural meeting of the Regional Forum for the Middle East Ministers of Justice (ME4) is tentatively scheduled to be held in Ottawa from December 11 to 13, 2005. Justice Minister Irwin Cotler secured the endorsement of his ME4 proposal from the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Egypt and Jordan.
$1.2 million in electoral support will be initiated now that the legislative election has been set for January 25, 2006.
- CIDA has contacted the PA Central Election Commission (CEC) to proceed with the deployment of a Canadian expert to assist with election preparation, and, at the specific request of the CEC, to provide ballot boxes through CODE Inc., a Canadian company that specializes in this service.
- CANADEM is proceeding with the identification of 50 Canada Corps election observers, some of whom will be deployed as long term observers as early as November 2005.
The Capacity Building Fund ($500,000) is now operational. In the fall of 2005, Social Development Canada will help the PA Ministry of Social Affairs with strategic planning.
Economic Development and Private Sector ($6 million)
Up to $6 million for a Palestinian Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP), which will be implemented in early October 2005. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will provide technical assistance to mount the RRAP and ensure equitable and transparent delivery, and will also help the PA to develop a housing policy.
Refugee Sector ($500,000)
$500,000 in renewed support to the scholarship fund for Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon will provide 25 to 30 new scholarships by the end of September 2005. This project will be implemented by the IDRC.