» Monday, February 28, 2005

Palestinian Conference

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) briefed journalists on the details of the meeting on Palestine tomorrow. He said that this meeting would be one of the largest international gatherings on the Middle East for some time, with a total of 23 states and 6 international organizations being represented. The PMOS listed the countries sending Foreign Ministers which included: Algeria, Bahrain, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Jordon, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Morocco, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Russian Federation, Spain, Tunisia, UAE, and the United States. The cast list would include Kofi Annan, Javier Solana, Condi Rice, the Heads of the World Bank and IMF, and showed the high level of delegation attending.

The PMOS said there will be three key parts to the meeting: first, Mahmoud Abbas would set out his comprehensive vision for strengthening the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the areas of governance, economy and security; second, the international community would set out its commitments in support of the Palestinian plan; and third, agreement on follow-up mechanisms would ensure that these commitments were followed through.

What we expected to see was a comprehensive, coordinated and practical work plan for both the PA and the international community, so that the Palestinians could make rapid progress towards meeting their obligations under the Roadmap, giving the Israelis greater confidence to push ahead with their disengagement plan and get back to the Roadmap.

The PMOS reminded journalists of the Five Point Plan that President Bush and the Prime Minister set out on 11th November 2004 at The White House. The first part was re-stating the vision of two viable states living side by side. The second part was the Palestinian Elections. The third part was this Palestinian meeting tomorrow, which was about helping the PA becoming viable. The fourth part was regarding Israeli disengagement, and the final point was getting back to the Roadmap. The PMOS said the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv was not only to be condemned, but also should be recognized as an attempt to disrupt this process. It therefore reinforced the need for this sort of practical meeting, which was aimed at addressing the obstacles in getting the Roadmap back on track. That was why it was an important meeting.

Asked if the delegations would be making firm offers or pledges of manpower and money, the PMOS said no. Rather, this conference would set the stage for a donor conference, which we expected to see in the next few months. What this conference would do would be to clarify the different roles that different parts of the international community would play. For example, there would be the establishment for the first time of a US- led coordinating group providing practical support to the Palestinians on security, including finance and training. There would also be a new role for the EU Commission and the World Bank in the governance and economic areas in coordinating support. The conference was about defining the roles the international community could play, and setting out the implementation steps beyond this meeting.

Asked what the Prime Minister’s movements would be tomorrow, the PMOS said he would be chairing the meeting, and there would be a press conference in the afternoon.

Asked why Abu Mazen wanted to come to the meeting tomorrow, the PMOS said the journalist should ask Abu Mazen. In terms of our meeting with Abu Mazen at Christmas, he made it clear that he saw this as an opportunity for the Palestinian Authority to build on the practical steps and help to establish the PA. The key to this was that both Israel and the Palestinians saw this meeting as a way to take the new steps back to the Roadmap It was a new way to start building confidence on either side, and to provide the help, especially to the Palestinians, that would allow them to make progress on the economy, terrorism, and on political structures that were necessary to become a viable state.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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