Follow-up to the International Donor’s Conference for the Palestinian State: Statement in the name of the Chair and Co-Chairs of the Conference
(Paris, 15 January 2009)
1. The chair and co-chairs of the Paris conference are seriously alarmed by the continuation of hostilities in Gaza and Southern Israel. The human casualties, among them many children and women, are unbearable. The hostilities must stop immediately in order to ensure that no more lives are lost. The chair and the co-chairs call for an immediate and complete ceasefire: a total cessation of rockets and an end to Israeli operations, as set out in UNSCR 1860.
2. The chair and co-chairs are alarmed by the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Gaza. UNRWA is playing a crucial role in that regard and the co-chairs call for renewed and increased support to UNRWA.
3. The chair and co-chairs call for a regular and predictable opening of all crossing points in the framework of a durable solution of the crisis in Gaza. Even before the Israeli military intervention, the economic situation in Gaza was unsustainable. 1.5 million inhabitants should never have been locked in such a territory. The population in Gaza should be able to enter and leave, goods to enter and cash and banking transfers to be authorized. At the same time, efforts to prevent arms smuggling through the tunnels must be strengthened.
4. From the very beginning, Gaza was part of the remit the Paris conference. The Paris conference was designed to help the Palestinian Authority lay the foundations of a viable Palestinian State, in parallel with the political negotiations on the final status and the establishment of a lasting peace. Gaza will remain part of the donors’ efforts, since a viable Palestinian State cannot emerge without Gaza. The amounts mobilized by donors (humanitarian and budgetary support) helped, through 2008, to sustain the Gazan population and finance some projects on the ground.
5. The chair and co-chairs of the Paris conference call for the restoration of Palestinian unity and welcome the renewed efforts of the Egyptian government in that regard. They call for all Palestinians to commit themselves to non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations. Restoring Palestinian unity based on the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) would be welcome progress in this process. The chair and the co-chairs urge donors to keep up with their commitments and help the Palestinian Authority to implement the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP 2008-2010), especially to fill the budgetary gap of the Palestinian Authority in 2009.
6. The chair and co-chairs underline the enormous challenge posed by the reconstruction of Gaza and its economic integration with the West Bank, in the framework of the implementation of the PRDP. They welcome the idea of holding a conference on urgent humanitarian needs and, in due course, on reconstruction, to address the priority needs set out by the Palestinian Authority, including through urgently needed additional contributions to UNRWA and through the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee. They believe that it is urgently necessary to put an end to the cycle of destruction and reconstruction. This can only be brought about by the urgent conclusion of the peace process.
7. The chair and co-chairs are convinced that only a viable Palestinian State living side by side with Israel will provide all the parties with peace and security. Sustained donors’ commitment is the best proof of worldwide support for this objective. As such the chair and co-chairs welcome both the fact that the Palestinians have reformed beyond their commitments (especially in the field of security and budgetary policy and transparency) and that donors have transferred more money than pledged: more than $3 billion altogether, including $1.8 billion in budgetary support, and around $700 million in humanitarian support and $600 million on project assistance. Israel has taken some steps, but much greater efforts are required. Much has to be done swiftly, in accordance with the road map, including the freezing of settlement expansion and improvement of access and movement.
8. It is high time to create, on the ground, a viable Palestinian State. The entire international community supports this objective./.