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Source: Palestinian Authority
21 March 2012



Palestinian National Authority




Equitable Development:
Moving Forward Despite the Occupation


The Palestinian National Authority’s Position Paper to the
Ad Hoc Liaison Committee



March 21st, 2012
Brussels, Belgium



Foreword

Four years ago, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) embarked on a rejuvenated reform and development agenda, building on the efforts of previous governments and Palestinian civil society, to complete the institutional framework of the State of Palestine. The Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP) 2008-10 prioritized the delivery of safety and security to citizens, along with stabilization of the government’s finances, as a means to improve economic and social conditions. The PRDP envisaged parallel actions at the political level to complete negotiations with Israel and formally establish the State of Palestine on the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967.

We have made significant strides forward in implementing the PRDP, ushering in a period of safety, security, stability and, ultimately, confidence in Palestinian governance. By the summer of 2009, the right governance conditions were undoubtedly in place for rapid and sustainable economic expansion and social development that would have been possible in the context of Palestinian sovereignty. However, lack of progress on the negotiations track – and indeed continued expansion of settlements, construction of the Separation Wall and the military assault on Gaza – critically undermined the core objective of the PRDP, namely to realize the two-state solution, thereby contributing to ending the Arab-Israeli conflict, and beginning to reverse the damage to the political, economic and social fabric of the Middle East.

Refusing to give up on the two-state solution, the 13th Government of the PNA released a new program in the summer of 2009, Palestine: Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State. Its guiding principle was to complete institutional preparations for statehood, despite the occupation, in order to end it. We sent a message to the world that the emergence of the State of Palestine was in the interest of international peace and stability; and that Palestine would make a positive contribution to the shared goal of peace and human development. Simultaneously, we emphasized that our program would reinforce the effort aimed at completing peace negotiations.

In September 2011, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) endorsed the collective view of the PNA, the UN, the World Bank and the IMF, that the performance of our governing institutions already compared favourably with other countries in the region and beyond. The AHLC’s position was recognized by the Middle East Quartet in its statement of 23rd September 2011. These views, coupled with the recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state by more than 130 UN member states, as well as by UNESCO, reinforce our belief that we are now ready for sovereignty over the state of Palestine on the June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

As we move beyond the 13th Government Program, we are mindful of the need to continue our momentum towards sovereignty and to keep the prospects for the two-state solution alive. We are committed to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East through negotiations. We believe that there are further positive steps forward that can be taken prior to, and in parallel with, negotiations consistent with the two-state vision. These include, first and foremost, the fostering of political, economic and social unity across Gaza and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the sustainable development of the 62% of the West Bank that currently lies under the full control of the Israeli military. Without excusing the obligations of Israel as the occupying power, we believe that constructive work can and must be done in these areas to ensure Palestine’s political independence and economic viability from the first day of its birth – a day beyond which Palestine and Palestinians will no longer be synonymous with conflict, but rather a success story in the quest for peace, tolerance and democracy in the Middle East and beyond.


March 2012


Salam Fayyad
Prime Minister


Equitable Development: Moving Forward Despite the Occupation

In the Program of 13th Government of the PNA, Palestine: Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State, we set ourselves the task of completing the process of readying our governing institutions for sovereignty and independence by September 2011. The underlying philosophy of the program was to proceed constructively with a bottom-up process of institution-building in the hope and expectation that parallel progress in peace negotiations would culminate in the establishment of the State of Palestine.

Our efforts have borne fruit, improving socio-economic conditions and quality of life in those geographical areas in which the government is able to operate. With strong support from the international community we have now reached the point at which the UN, the World Bank, the IMF and the AHLC have acknowledged the readiness of our institutions for statehood and the high quality of services we provide relative to comparator countries in the Middle East and beyond. Our regular reports to the AHLC tracked our progress; and our achievements have received acknowledgement and endorsement from the UN and international financial institutions at successive AHLC meetings.

Peace negotiations, on the other hand, have stalled and they continue to be undermined by continued implementation by Israel of policies that nurture the growth of settlements on occupied land; build a wall to establish de facto borders; alter the character of East Jerusalem, isolate Palestinians in Gaza, seize Palestinian land and natural resources, deal violently with non-violent Palestinian protests, fail to restraint settler violence against our citizens, property, and places of worship; and maintain the practice of engaging in military incursions into Area “A”. These violations of international law – which continue despite repeated calls by the international community to stop them – create facts on the ground that prejudice final status negotiations, and are inimical to the prospects of continued viability of a just peace agreement.

The stalled peace process, on-going occupation and the separation of Gaza from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have engendered uneven development and service delivery across Palestine. Citizens in Gaza, East Jerusalem and other areas of the West Bank beyond the reach of government services have not yet reaped the full benefits of economic growth and public investment delivered under the PRDP 2008-10 and the Program of 13th Government. If allowed to continue, this state of affairs, which fuels frustration, hopelessness and fragmentation of Palestinian politics and society, will soon terminally undermine the viability of the two-state solution. Nevertheless we will continue to adhere to our commitment to the two-state solution as a means to end the occupation and gain our independence. Though our constructive policy program was not met with a similarly positive and forward-looking response from Israel, we recognize that we cannot stand still. To do so would be tantamount to giving up on our quest for the state of Palestine.

We will, therefore, continue to pursue a ‘building from the ground-up’ approach to preparing for statehood, by working to create initial conditions that are conducive to the rapid economic and social development of an independent Palestine, with particular emphasis on geographical areas that lie outside the so-called ‘Area A’ and ‘Area B’ in the West Bank. We will work harder to support and follow the example of communities who, with the help of the government, as well as national and international NGOs and international development partners, have shown great determination to remain steadfast in their homes and on their land in areas that lie beyond Palestinian government control. The risks involved are quite clear, most tangibly demonstrated by the Israeli army’s program of demolition of homes, schools and other structures that underpin livelihoods. But we must venture against these risks in order to maintain momentum towards independence. We strongly encourage our international partners to join in this endeavour, despite the risks, and employ all tools at their disposal at the diplomatic level to enable development beyond ‘Area A’ and ‘Area B’, including the sustainable reconstruction of Gaza and rebuilding of Palestinian institutions and infrastructure in East Jerusalem.

Over the coming months, in line with the National Development Plan (PNDP) 2011-13, we will place particular emphasis on three core policy objectives:


We will pursue these objectives in the firm belief that they are unequivocally in the interests of all Palestinian citizens. In doing so, recognizing that our regional cooperation is essential if our society and economy is to flourish over the long-term, we will make a determined effort to work together with neighbouring countries.

Equitable Socio-Economic Development

Implementation of the PRDP 2008-10 and the 13th Government program has brought improvements in the quality of life and socio-economic conditions of citizens living in those areas of the West Bank that lie within our de facto jurisdiction. However, the majority of citizens living in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the 62% of the West Bank described as ‘Area C’ (which is totally controlled by the Israeli military) continue to labor under higher levels of poverty and unemployment, and in a state of general human insecurity largely caused by the Israeli occupation and its capricious control regime. Nothing short of an end to the occupation can deliver equity and justice. However, we cannot simply wait for the conclusion of peace negotiations to reverse this de-development and destruction of livelihoods. We believe it is now essential that we press forward with the development of these neglected geographical areas, whilst continuing to assert the rights of Palestinian families to remain steadfast in their homes and on their land.

We hope that, given its commitment to the two-state solution, the international community will work more determinedly with us to eradicate this injustice and inequity, and the untenable fragmentation along arbitrary and unilaterally imposed geographic divisions. For obviously, a viable state cannot emerge against a backdrop of discrimination, unfairness, and socio-economic discontinuity.

Activation of Development Plans


Rights, Justice and Steadfastness

Institutional Strengthening

We will continue to strengthen our governing institutions, improving their efficiency and effectiveness in order to deliver good governance and improved services to our citizens at a reasonable and sustainable cost for years to come. This will entail measures to further upgrade the capability of ministries and agencies at the central and local level, with increasing focus on strengthening the capacity of local government units to ensure the delivery of quality services to all citizens wherever they reside. At the same time, we will strive to ensure accountability, transparency and proper checks and balances on the executive branch of government by facilitating the work and development of the judiciary, the legislature and independent oversight bodies whilst at all times respecting their independence. Our policy priorities are:

Efficiency and Effectiveness of the Public Sector


Strengthening Local Government
Justice, Integrity and Accountability

Economic Viability and Self-Reliance

The Government’s long-term economic strategy is to build a strong, knowledge-based economy that is well integrated with regional and global markets assuring the sustainability and independence of a sovereign Palestine, and capitalizing on high educational standards amongst Palestinians living in the homeland and overseas. This strategy is underpinned by a commitment to sound economic management and private sector led growth, working in partnership with Palestinian and international businesses. Its ultimate realization depends upon unfettered access to Palestinian land and natural resources, the lifting of embargos and restrictions on movement and access, and the elimination of barriers to international trade and travel currently imposed on Palestinian businesses and individuals.1 Nevertheless, we believe that substantial investment now, particularly in key sectors such as agriculture and tourism which offer the promise of early-stage economic growth and job creation, are an essential element of preparation for statehood. Our policy priorities are:

Sound Economic Management


Private Sector Development
Upgrading Infrastructure

__________

1 The World Bank and IMF have, over the course of the last several years, repeatedly pointed to the extremely high growth and export potential of the Palestinian economy if and when it attains independence, sovereignty and unfettered access to the land and natural resources in all the territory within 1967 borders.


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