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Meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for Assistance to the Palestinians (AHLC) in Oslo
The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) chaired by Norway met in Oslo on December 8, amid signs of growing optimism at the prospect of renewing the Middle East peace process.
“I am very encouraged by the new willingness of the Israelis and the Palestinians to work together, as well as with the seriousness of their commitment, says the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jan Petersen. “The meeting has demonstrated the strong support of the international community for the Palestinian Authority. I hope the program for further action that we have established will support both the Palestinian Authority and the peace process”, says Petersen.
Mr. Petersen says that the main results of the meeting were the following:
The AHLC demonstrated the strong support of the international community for the Palestinian leadership in transition.
The AHLC considered the serious economic crisis in the West Bank and Gaza and discussed measures for economic stabilization and revival, as well as reviewing progress in the Palestinian reform program.
The AHLC emphasized the immediate need for additional budget support to the PA, which continues to face a potential financial crisis. The AHLC called on all Western and Arab donors to fulfill earlier pledges of budget support to the PA. The AHLC noted that the case for additional budget support is significantly strengthened by the continued strong efforts at public financial reform, which now place the PA in the front rank of regional performers.
Turning to the preconditions for Palestinian economic revival, the AHLC endorsed the findings of the recent World Bank report, Stagnation or Revival – Israeli Disengagement and Palestinian Economic Prospects. The AHLC welcomed Israel’s proposals to ease closure at the border passages, but also noted that significant additional steps would be needed. The PA for its part would need to combat terrorism and deepen its program of security and governance reforms, while Israel would need to roll back the system of restrictions on the movement of people and goods within and between Gaza and the West Bank.
In order to sustain momentum donors felt the need to establish a programme of further actions. The Chair called for a further meeting early in 2005 to review both immediate needs including budget support and progress required to establish conditions for economic revival to be followed as early as possible by a well-prepared Consultative Group meeting. The Chair requested the World Bank to work with the parties and donors to translate the recommendations in its report into a set of measures that need to be taken.