EU + UN: institutions of Palestinian state ready

Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission hosted a regular twice-yearly meeting on 13 April of the donor coordination group [Ad Hoc Liaison Committee or AHLC] for the occupied Palestinian territory in Brussels. The meeting was presided over by Norwegian Foreign Minister Støre in his capacity as chair of the AHLC, and was attended by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Fayyad, as well as Quartet Special Envoy Tony Blair, and officials from the Israeli Foreign Ministry — and, though we wouldn’t have known it from the AHLC or Blair websites [see instead link below to a Haaretz story], also present was the IDF officer in charge of the Israeli military-administered sanctions on Gaza, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot [whose title is “Coordinator of {Israeli} Government Activities in the {occupied Palestinian} Territories”, a Defense Ministry unit otherwise known as COGAT, which also controls quite a lot in the West Bank as well as in Gaza].

It was, apparently, the first in a series of donor meetings planned for 2011.

The next planned donor conference is scheduled to be held in Paris in June 2011, to support “the Palestinian national development plan for 2011-2013”.

{The UN describes the AHLC here as “a 12-member committee that serves as the principal policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Palestinian people. The AHLC is chaired by Norway and cosponsored by the EU and US. In addition, the United Nations participates together with the World Bank (Secretariat) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The AHLC seeks to promote dialogue between donors, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Government of Israel (GoI)”. The Portland Trust, which seems to set the policies that Tony Blair follows, notes here that “The AHLC was established on 1 October 1993 (this is two weeks after the signing of the first of the Oslo Accords) . It serves as the principal policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Palestinian people. Norway is the chair of the committee, the World Bank acts as secretariat and the EU and US are co-sponsors. The members are: the Palestinian Authority (PA), Government of Israel (GoI), Canada, Egypt, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Japan, Jordan, United Nations (UN), Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia”. It is worth noting that the Portland Trust’s publication, Palestinian Economic Bulletin, is prepared by the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS) in Ramallah.}

The Norwegian Chairman reportedly said that “the international donor group in support of the Palestinians (AHLC) welcomed reports that the Palestinian Authority has crossed the threshold for a functioning state in terms of its successful institution building. This was the assessment of the Palestinian Authority’s performance in key sectors studied by the World Bank, the IMF, and the UN. Moreover, according to the IMF, the Palestinian reforms have come so far that not only is the public financial management system ready to support the functions of a state; it has even become a model for other developing countries”. These remarks are posted here.

This report also reported that Støre said: “many donors noted that the lack of political progress leaves the negotiating track out of sync with the far advanced state-building efforts of the Palestinian Authority. This is why all parties concerned must stand firm behind the stated goal of negotiating a framework agreement on permanent status and a subsequent comprehensive peace treaty by the agreed target date in September”.

The full text of the Chairman’s summary is not available on the Norwegian website — or, at least, the various web addresses given for it are not working.

[It has to be said that most all of those involved here are internet-impaired…]

After the meeting, the EU High Representative Ashton said in a public statement: “The Palestinian Authority has made significant progress on this state-building agenda. Today Palestinian institutions compare favorably with those in established states [!!!] … I’m proud to say that the EU has been instrumental in the institution building process. For 2011, we have already earmarked €300 million for it. Yet it’s clear that these achievements can only be sustainable in the event of a political breakthrough. The international community should not let these concerted efforts go to waste. This opportunity should not be missed. We reaffirm our readiness to contribute to a negotiated solution within the timeline set by the Quartet.”

Quartet Representative Tony Blair issued a report, “Action in Support of Palestinian Authority State-Building” [the pdf file on the Quartet Representative website is “damaged and cannot be downloaded”]. Blair said in a statement that “Palestinian state building under the Palestinian Authority and Prime Minister Fayyad is a bright light amongst a lot of diplomatic darkness. It shows what can be done, how the Palestinians are able to govern a state, and therefore the vital importance of re-energising the political process. Palestinian state building is also an important factor in addressing Israel’s real security concerns”…

The website is even more emphatic on another page, reporting here that “Quartet Representative Tony Blair said ‘credible political negotiations’ were needed on a ‘very urgent’ basis to ‘revive the political process’.”

[See the recent post on our sister blog, here, that Tony Blair is moving the Quartet Representative’s Office in East Jerusalem — which he visits about once a month — from the American Colony Hotel up the hill to a new building still under construction on Nablus Road, just below the Ambassador Hotel… ]

On Gaza, Blair said “we still have a long, long way to go”…

Quite an understatement.

UPDATE: Haaretz later reported here that “earlier this week donor states to the Palestinian Authority, which held a conference last week in Brussels, condemned in its concluding statement uncoordinated aid flotillas to Gaza. The conference called on all parties to use land terminals to the Strip and avoid provocations. The statement is signed by the chairman of the conference, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store. A major force behind the clause was intense lobbying from the Israeli delegation to the conference, comprised of the coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, and Foreign Ministry diplomats”.

Salam Fayyad’s remarks at the joint press conference can be viewed on this page here, and his answer to a journalist’s question is posted here.

“We Palestinians have made a declaration of statehood going back to 1988 … We’re not looking for yet another declaration of a state, nor for a virtual state”, Fayyad said, “we’re looking for a genuine fully sovereign state of Palestine on territory occupied in 1967 in Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital … and an end to the Israeli occupation”…

[The Al-Jazeera Transparency Unit, which archives its leaked Palestinian Papers, has a couple of interesting related documents — three, from 2008 discussions, are posted here, here, and here.]

Here are the links to the various reports submitted to this AHLC meeting in Brussels on 13 April 2011 — (they are not so easy to find…and the IMF report took days to locate):
The World Bank report is posted here.
The IMF report is supposed to be posted here — it is on the IMF country page here — but it doesn’t open, or maybe it doesn’t download…
UPDATE: The 35-page IMF report was finally located on the UN’s UNISPAL website here.
Salam Fayyad’s report for the Palestinian Authority is posted hereand a summary is posted here.
Israel’s report is posted here.
The report signed by Tony Blair for the Office of the Quartet Representative (www.quartetrep.org) does not download from the Quartet’s website — the error message reads “the file is damaged but could not be repaired” — but a link does work through Tony Blair’s Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/TonyBlair) which is “liked” by over 18,000 people, and which has a greater emphasis on his Faith Foundation than on his work for the Quartet. The link that does work is here.
The report of the UN Special Coordinator, Robert Serry, is posted here, and an accompanying press release is posted here.

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