PA Reform Task Force Convenes in Paris

The international task force on reforming the Palestinian Authority met with Palestinian and Israeli delegations yesterday in Paris to discuss reform proposals as part of a broader effort to restore calm and rejuvenate the peace process.

The international team included Quartet members (the United States, the UN, the European Union and Russia), donor countries Japan and Norway, and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Slated to go on through this afternoon, the talks are covering the progress made so far in reforming the PA, announced as a 100-day process in June. The reforms cover financial transparency, administrative reform, elections, market reforms and other changes. The meetings were closed to reporters, but a statement is expected today.

On Wednesday, the Palestinians in attendance met informally with the international team. The PA is represented by Finance Minister Salam Fayad, Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, businessman Mohammed Masruji and representatives of several Palestinian NGOs. Yesterday morning, the Israeli team held talks with the international group and in the afternoon, the formal session with the Palestinians took place.

A source in Paris said that the Palestinians told the international team that the main obstacle to progress are the limits on freedom of movement in the territories. They produced a paper presenting all the steps so far taken, mostly in the financial and legal realm, to implement reforms meant to establish clear divisions between government branches and to eliminate corruption.

According to the source, all the international representatives - except the Americans - agreed with the Palestinians that Israeli closure policies were a major hindrance to progress. But all agreed there has been some progress with the reforms.