Arab League head urges world to increase aid to Palestinians
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa urges world to exceed U.S. $5.8 billion in aid sought by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The head of the Arab League on Friday urged the world community to exceed a U.S. $5.8 billion aid target sought by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for his people.
"I think this sum - even more than that - must be given to the Palestinians to rebuild their society," Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa told reporters in Paris.
Dozens of countries were expected to send envoys to a high-level international donors conference for the Palestinians in Paris on Dec. 17. Palestinian Planning Minister Samir Abdullah was in the French capital Friday for a preparatory meeting.
Abbas was expected to ask the international community to nearly double aid through 2010, for a total of U.S. $5.8 billion. According to an early copy of his government's 2008-2010 development plan, obtained by The Associated Press, 70 percent of the aid is to go for budget support and 30 percent is to be spent on development projects.
Moussa said at least U.S. $5.8 billion is needed to help Palestinian society, whose infrastructures and whose very life has been destroyed by the Israeli occupation.
He couched his pleas for donor generosity in moral terms, saying the international community owed it to the Palestinians to pledge generously.
"The state of things in Palestine is the responsibility of the international community," he said. "It's not simple financial engagement - it's political, moral and humanitarian."
Asked whether he thought donors would meet Abbas' demands, Moussa said he hoped so.
The Paris conference is meant to build on the momentum from last week's Mideast conference in Annapolis, Maryland, at which Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged to resume long-stalled peace talks and aim for an accord by the end of 2008.
Moussa said the Annapolis conference was a positive development but warned that momentum generated there could easily be lost.
We fear that we could find ourselves back at the starting blocks in three months' time, he said.
Abbas says he needs help with a huge deficit run up in years of strife, but also is promising to curb spending and spark economic growth - and ultimately, reduce dependence on aid.
Livni calls for NATO help to bolster Palestinian forcesParticipants in a NATO meeting of foreign ministers on Friday in Brussles said that a speech delivered by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni demonstrated a strong willingness on the part of Israel for NATO assistance to help bolster Palestinian security forces.
"We are now in a process that is expected to strengthen the capabilities of the Palestinian Authority - so they would fight terror instead of Israel. However, one can not exclude the possibility that we will need to discuss what can be the role of NATO in supporting the need for a change, a real change, on the ground," Livni said.
A senior NATO official said this week that despite the fact that the three conditions laid out by Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO secretary general, for peacekeeping troop deployment in the region haven't been met, the alliance may consider providing more partial assistance. Those three conditions are a final peace agreement, a UN Security Council decision and a request by both sides.