Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

17 May 1996


A seminar on assistance to the Palestinian people with the theme "Building the Palestinian Economy" has been convened by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, in accordance with its mandate to promote international support for, and assistance to, the Palestinian people during the transitional period. The seminar will be held from 21 to 23 May at the "Gezirah Sheraton" hotel in Cairo, Egypt. The event aims to build on the seminars on economic and social issues held under the Committee's auspices in the past three years, and to make a positive contribution to international efforts to promote the effective implementation of the Declaration of Principles, signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in September 1993.

The seminar will be opened on Tuesday, 21 May, at 10 a.m., by Egypt's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Amre Moussa. Statements will be made by the representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and the observer for Palestine.

The rest of the morning session will be devoted to examining the role of international assistance in building the Palestinian economy. Statements are expected to be made by representatives of donor countries, regional organizations, United Nations bodies and agencies involved in assistance programmes for the Palestinians, other intergovernmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations active in the field. The session will be followed by a discussion in which all participants are invited to participate.

Four round tables will be organized from Tuesday, 21 May, through Thursday, 23 May. Round table I, to be held at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, will address the topic "international assistance to the Palestinian people: experience and perspective". Participants will focus on multilateral and bilateral channels of assistance, Palestinian institutions, as well as international and regional cooperation. Experts invited by the United Nations to speak on these issues are Odin G. Knudsen, representative of the World Bank in the West Bank and Gaza; Ghania Malhees, Assistant Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of the Palestinian Authority; Nabil Sharif, Director of the Palestinian Water Authority and member of the Palestinian Council for Economic Development and Reconstruction; Mohamed Shtayyeh, also a member of that Council; and Michael B. McGeever, head of the delegation of the European Commission in Cairo.

The second round table, to be held on Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., is entitled "trade sector". Participants will discuss the implementation of the economic agreement between the PLO and Israel, trade prospects with the Arab countries and bilateral trade agreements. Experts speaking on these questions will include Robert Lawrence, professor of International Trade, Institute for Social and Economic Policy in the Middle East, Harvard University; Samir Huleileh, Assistant Deputy Minister for Trade, Ministry for Economy, Trade and Industry of the Palestinian Authority; Hanspeter Tschäni, trade policy expert, Swiss Trade Initiative for the Middle East and North Africa; and Jean-Michel Dumont, Secretary-General of the Parliamentary Association of Euro-Arab Cooperation.

Round table III, entitled "the role of the financial institutions", will start at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. Participants will consider the role of Palestinian monetary institutions, reinvesting private deposits, and the promotion of small businesses. Experts include Ahmad Mashal, Head of the Research Department of the Palestinian Monetary Authority; James Duesenberry, professor of Money and Banking, Harvard University; and Said Hammoun, Secretary of the Founding Committee of Salam International Investment.

On Thursday morning at 10 a.m., round table IV, entitled "the housing sector", will discuss the following sub-themes: short, middle and long-term policies and needs, the role of the public sector, involvement of the private sector, financial policies and incentives, and employment opportunities. Experts include Marwan Abdul Hamid, Assistant Deputy Minister of Housing and Public Works of the Palestinian Authority; Ali Sha'ath, Assistant Deputy Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of the Palestinian Authority; and Walid Hasna, Chief Engineer with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People.

The seminar will hold its closing session at 5 p.m. on Thursday. It is expected that the report of the seminar will be conveyed by the Chairman of the Committee to the President of the Economic and Social Council for circulation at the Council's substantive session.

Invitations to attend the seminar have been sent to all governments, a number of intergovernmental organizations, United Nations agencies and organizations, and non-governmental organizations. A delegation of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People will also be present. The working languages of the seminar will be Arabic, English and French.

Registration for all participants, observers, and media representatives will be held on Sunday, 19 May, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Monday, 20 May, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., on the first floor of the "Gezirah Sheraton". The secretariat is located in room 102, the telephone is 341-1333. The fax number is 340-5056.

The secretariat will issue badges necessary to enter the premises. All participants, observers and media representatives based in Cairo are kindly requested to avail themselves of the advance registration. A final registration is possible on Tuesday, 21 May, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., in the foyer to the conference room.

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For information media - not an official record