Fayyad to request $5 billion to launch Palestinian state

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad says donors have ‘welcomed’ his plan to launch the state, and will officially present the plan at a pledging conference in June.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will meet with Western representatives in Brussels on Wednesday and request nearly 5 billion dollars in investment to launch a Palestinian state.

The Palestinian Authority’s three-year development plan, obtained by Reuters, requires 1.467 billion dollars this year, 1.754 billion dollars in 2012 and 1.596 billion dollars for 2013.

“We have distributed the plan to the donors and they have welcomed it,” Palestinian Planning Minister Ali al-Jarbawi said

The plan will be presented formally to donor countries at a pledging conference in June, he said.

Palestinian leaders plan to ask the United Nations General Assembly in September to recognize a Palestinian state in all the lands Israel occupied in 1967.

Israel has warned that unilateral moves cannot replace a negotiated peace agreement, but the Palestinians say nearly two decades of talks have failed to give them a state.

The United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have praised Fayyad’s drive over the past two years to establish the institutions and attributes of a modern state in time for the General Assembly meeting in September.

“The journey has been long and arduous, but the end is now in sight. We are now in home stretch to freedom,” Fayyad says in the introduction to the plan. “Now it is time for us to be the masters of our own destiny in a state of our own.”

The plan says “the next three years will witness a transformation in the nature of external aid from ‘life support’ to real investment in the future of Palestine”.

It calls for an economy led by the private sector, reducing government’s recurrent expenditure while increasing development spending.

It says GDP growth is expected to reach nine percent this year, rising to 10 percent in 2012 and 12 percent in 2013. Unemployment is projected to decline from 25 percent in 2009 to 15 percent in 2013.

The fiscal framework projects 16 percent annualized growth in revenue over the three years, with total net revenues exceeding 2 billion dollars in 2011 and well above 3 billion dollars in 2013, due to an increase in tax revenues.

The development plan’s inclusion of the Gaza Strip ignores the fact that it is currently under the control of Hamas. The Islamist movement took over the strip in 2007, and refuses to recognize the existence of the State of Israel.

Hamas and the more moderate West Bank-based PA have not cooperated in the past, however, some steps have been taken in recent months to increase dialogue between the two groups. No concrete progress has been reported as of yet, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has made it clear that Israel will not negotiate with a joint PA-Hamas government.

The document called for a withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank, saying “development of vast areas of West Bank land, isolated and damaged by the occupation, will also require sustained effort and investment for many years to come”

Israel has said that only a negotiated treaty to establish a Palestinian state living in peace with Israelis can resolve the Middle East conflict. However, talks hit a standstill in September after Israel resumed building in the West Bank after a 9 month settlement freeze.

(ww.haaretz.com / 13.04.2011)

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