|Middle East Investment Initiative: Launching New Opportunities in the Middle East|
Karen Hughes, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
Remarks at the launch of the Middle East Investment Initiative
Ramallah, West Bank
July 25, 2007
Thank you, Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister. It’s an honor to be a part of today’s launch of the new Middle East Investment Initiative. I’m here representing Secretary Rice and President Bush to follow up on the President’s speech last week. President Bush made a commitment that America would expand our support for the Palestinian people and the government of President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, and we are here to launch a unique financial partnership to do just that.
I want to thank the leaders of this effort: Rob Mosbacher and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; Berl Bernhard with the Aspen Institute, which has been working on this project for a couple of years and has been instrumental to its success; Dr. Mustafa with the Palestine Investment Fund, CHF International; the Government of Norway: and all involved. Today’s announcement represents a major source of funding that will be available directly to the Palestinian people through small business loans guaranteed up to $228 million.
President Bush knows and the American people know that in our quest for peace, it is crucial to improve the living conditions and the economic opportunities of the Palestinian people. This new initiative will provide affordable, longer term loans to businesses that would otherwise not be able to access them. It says to an olive grower who wants to expand operations, or someone with a small information technology company, or a woman who wants to hire her neighbors to help produce and export beautiful Palestinian embroidery, or an aspiring industrialist that America and our partners want to help you to expand your business, support your family, and create new jobs. We expect most of these loans will go to family owned businesses, and because of the structure of the program, the choice of how to spend this money will be up to you. This is not America telling the Palestinian people what they should do, this is America asking, "What are your dreams, what are your plans, what do you want to achieve?" and providing a way to help you pursue those goals.
I know many here feel you have been let down in the past and have trouble trusting words. I’ve talked a great deal about America’s diplomacy of deeds–the concrete ways in which America helps people improve their lives through our support for education, health care, and economic development–and this program is a great example.
As President Bush has said, the United States is committed to financial, diplomatic, and political support to help lay the foundations for a successful Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and today’s announcement is part of an infusion of American support.
America wants for the people of this region–Palestinian and Israeli–a future of peace, security, and prosperity. There are those who say, "Too little, too late," who have given up hope on this region and on peace. Their path is one of continued violence and death and the ongoing humiliation of occupation.
America supports a very different future, one of hope and a state of your own–living side by side in peace with Israel–and we extend our hand to help you achieve that future.
Today’s announcement is an expression of the friendship and generosity of the American people, designed to help the people of Palestine build their own businesses, improve their own incomes, achieve their own dignity.
America is known as the land of opportunity–and we believe this is a moment of opportunity for the people of the Holy Land. Let us work together to seize this moment and make today’s announcement one of many concrete steps toward a different and a better future.