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Source: Norway
23 September 2008

Norway to increase budget support to the Palestinian authorities by NOK 85 million

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre chaired a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for Assistance to the Palestinians (AHLC) on Monday 22 September. The meeting, which was the third at ministerial-level since September 2007, reaffirmed strong international political support for a two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“Clear recognition of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s reform efforts in the financial and security sectors was expressed at the meeting today,” said Mr Støre.

“The considerable support the donors are providing for the Palestinian economy was also acknowledged. I’m glad that the international funding to the Palestinians over the last year has been in line with donor countries’ pledges. It is important now to ensure that the Palestinian authorities are able do their job.

“Together with a number of other donor countries, Norway emphasised the importance of removing Israeli road blocks, as this is crucial for growth in the Palestinian economy. Freedom of movement for the Palestinians and for goods and services is essential for developing economic activity in the Palestinian Territory,” continued Mr Støre, adding that reports from the UN, World Bank and the IMF also underline this point.

“At the same time, Norway and a large number of other delegations highlighted that the increase in the number of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian Territory and the building of the separation barrier are in violation of the 2004 Roadmap and undermine the credibility of the current political negotiation process between the parties.

“In the present situation, considerable international efforts are still needed. In order to ensure that there is enough money to pay public employees’ salaries, and to provide health and education services, Norway has decided to increase its budget support to the Palestinian Authority by NOK 85 million to NOK 310 million for this year under the Norwegian 2008 budget. The total Norwegian funding to the Palestinian people will thus amount to NOK 790 million in 2008.

“Norway has stressed the links between the political negotiation process and the efforts to develop the Palestinian economy. Unless political process is made, it will be difficult for the Palestinian economy to stand on its own two feet. And without visible political progress, donors may lose the will to contribute. At the same time, an economic downturn in the Palestinian Territory may undermine the will to find a political solution. I am therefore very pleased to see the clear international support for a Palestinian state and a two-state solution at today’s AHLC meeting,” said Mr Støre.

The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for Assistance to the Palestinians (AHLC)is made up of a total of 28 donor countries and international institutions, including members of the Middle East Quartet (the US, the EU, Russia and the UN). The UN hosted the meeting in New York. Norway has chaired the AHLC since 1994. Quartet Representative Tony Blair also attended the meeting.

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