Kofi Annan May Visit Israel This Month

NEW YORK - United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan may visit Israel soon.

At a meeting yesterday at his UN office, which was attended by Yahad chairman Yossi Beilin, Annan said he is considering accepting an invitation by Yad Vashem to the opening of its new museum on March 15.

Annan said that any visit would include one day spent in Israel and one in the Palestinian Authority.

In conversation with Beilin, Annan displayed great interest in the disengagement plan and the chances for its implementation. He also asked Beilin how he intends to vote on the budget.

Annan attributed importance to the conference of donor countries taking place in London today, noting it is the first conference attended by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Annan agreed with Beilin's opinion that a few components of the road map need to be updated.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees yesterday presented the international donor community with a budget blueprint for raising $1.1 billion to fund UNRWA activity for the next five years.

Outgoing UNRWA chief Peter Hansen presented the request at a meeting yesterday in Geneva of representatives of donor countries.

"This is not a prescriptive plan," Hansen told a press conference.

"It is an outline meant to accommodate changing realities and needs on the ground," he said.

Hansen said UNRWA needs an additional $1.1 billion to improve the lives of 4 million Palestinian refugees and strengthen their ability to support themselves.

Strained relations with Israel and Israeli pressure on Annan's office led to Hansen's contract not being renewed. He will be leaving his post shortly.

At yesterday's meeting, Hansen described the budget proposal as "a testimony to the commitment of UNRWA and its donor partners to help the Palestine refugees live in dignity and achieve their ambitions for self-reliance and development."