Palestinian state-building project faces considerable obstacles
Press release | Date: 17/11/2021 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
‘Comprehensive, far-reaching measures are needed to reverse the negative economic trend in Palestine and strengthen the Palestinian institutions that the donors have been helping to develop for nearly three decades. I am pleased that the parties reported progress in a number of areas at the AHLC meeting and that the donors have reaffirmed their support for a two-state solution. Now we must focus on getting everyone to build on this and pull in the same direction,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.
This afternoon, Ms Huitfeldt chaired a ministerial meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), the international donor group for Palestine, at Oslo City Hall. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation Esawi Frej and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi took part. Representatives from the US, the EU, Russia, Egypt and other key countries, as well as from the UN, the World Bank and the IMF also participated. The main aim of the AHLC is to develop an institutional and economic basis for a Palestinian state based on a negotiated two-state solution.
‘It is encouraging that the Palestinian and Israeli ministers have resumed contact. I hope that this will lead to concrete measures that will improve the daily lives of Palestinians. It is also important that the parties avoid actions that could undermine the prospect of progress or lead to destabilisation,’ Ms Huitfeldt said.
The Palestinian Authority is facing significant challenges, including budgetary problems. Although the economy is showing some signs of improvement as the pandemic recedes, growth remains slow, and there is widespread unemployment and an enormous need for investment. The Palestinian Authority is weakened by large budget deficits and a substantial reduction in aid as well as by the limits placed on its room for manoeuvre due to the occupation. The situation is further exacerbated by the lack of a political horizon for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
‘After two years of digital meetings, the Israelis and the Palestinians both expressed a strong desire to meet in person. The two parties have recently resumed dialogue at a high political level. This has created a new dynamic and hope for progress. Many people have emphasised that this meeting couldn’t have come at a better time,’ Ms Huitfeldt said.
The humanitarian situation in Gaza remains critical, especially in the wake of the conflict in May. Electricity and water supplies need to be improved. Framework conditions for imports and exports need to be enhanced. More Palestinians must be given access to employment in both Palestine and Israel. External assistance must be increased and made more predictable.
Concerns about the state of the economy and the humanitarian situation were recurring themes at the meeting. A number of participants also pointed out that fundamental rights in Palestine are under pressure from a range of factors, not least due to the occupation.
‘It is important to maintain the focus on good governance and respect for human rights. That is why I warned against actions that could reduce the space for civil society and political opposition,’ Ms Huitfeldt said.