Published: 2021-03-03 12:14
Last Updated: 2021-04-11 05:19
"Although the Palestinians are still facing major challenges, I am cautiously optimistic after the meeting today. While the situation last year was characterized by political deadlock between Palestine and Israel, a more productive dialogue is now underway. The parties are cooperating on health, security, and economic development in Palestine. Still, there is a long way to go before a political solution to the conflict can be achieved," said Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
Feb. 23, Ms. Eriksen Søreide chaired the digital meeting of the International Donor Group for Palestine (AHLC). EU High Representative Josep Borrell co-hosted the meeting. The Palestinian delegation was headed by Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and Finance Minister Shukri Bishara. Deputy Director General Haim Regev of the Israeli Occupation Ministry of Foreign Affairs spoke on behalf of the Israeli Occupation. The representative of the US, Deputy Assistant Secretary Hady Amr, stated that the US will resume its assistance to the Palestinians and support political efforts aimed at realizing a two-state solution in the long term.
According to the AHLC, cooperation is essential to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the roll-out by the Palestinian Authority of a vaccination program across Palestine, with support from the UN. The first vaccines have already reached the West Bank and Gaza. At the meeting, the parties confirmed that they will continue to cooperate on vaccines and other measures to bring the pandemic under control. Many donors expressed willingness to contribute to the provision of vaccines for the Palestinians, for instance through the Covax funding mechanism, which Norway also supports.
The Palestinian economy deteriorated significantly in 2020. According to the AHLC, the Israeli Occupation economy and the Palestinian economy are closely interconnected, and better cooperation between the parties is expected to lead to greater revenues for the Palestinian Authority and better living conditions for the Palestinian people. The donors present at the meeting agreed on a set of recommendations to stabilize and strengthen the Palestinian economy.
"There is a need to increase donor support to Palestine, as payments have been low in recent years. At the same time, the two parties must reach agreement on ways to strengthen the Palestinian economy and increase revenues to the Palestinian Authority," said Ms. Eriksen Søreide.
According to the AHLC, the Palestinian economy cannot fully realize its potential until there is an end to the occupation and the parties have negotiated a permanent peace agreement. It is vital to achieve a political solution to the conflict that gives the Palestinians freedom and recognition in their own state.
"The meeting called upon both parties to create a path back to negotiations and refrain from unilateral actions that pose obstacles to the peace process and undermine the two-state solution," said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
*The AHLC was established in 1993 following the Oslo I Accord, with a view to creating an institutional and economic foundation for a negotiated two-state solution. It is the only international forum where both parties to the conflict take part in a regular dialogue with donors and the international community aimed at pursuing Palestinian state-building and a negotiated two-state solution.