EU Pledges to Back Any Israeli-Palestinian Peace Deal With Aid

EU post-Annapolis aid package aimed at boosting PA economy, meeting Israel's security needs.

The European Union promised Monday to back any Israeli-Palestinian deal forged at the upcoming peace conference with aid, and urged Arab governments to open their wallets to help forge a credible Palestinian economy.

Israel and the Palestinians have so far failed to reach any agreements ahead of the Middle East gathering set for next week in Annapolis, Maryland.

On Monday, the EU foreign ministers endorsed a report - written by Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU external relations commissioner, and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana - outlining steps to support any peace moves emerging from the Annapolis conference.

"The report makes clear EU aid will be made available to boost the Palestinian police force, health, education and judiciary departments. Also, the EU stands ready to provide broad economic assistance while continuing humanitarian aid in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," Ferrero-Waldner told reporters.

"We are happy that Annapolis seems to be taking place," Ferrero-Waldner told reporters.

She said post-Annapolis aid measures would benefit the Palestinian economy and, in turn, meet Israel's long-standing demand for security guarantees.

"We know that Israel always fears for the security of its population," said Ferrero-Waldner. She said if the Palestinian economy can be revived, there would be hope again for peace.

In 2007, aid to the Palestinians from the EU and its member states will total about 1 billion euros ($1.47 billion).

"We have been contributing a lot," Ferrero-Waldner said. "It is important now that other donors come forward."

She said the EU looked notably to Arab League nations to announce contributions at a Paris donor conference that would follow the Annapolis meeting.