Speech/statement | Date: 22/09/2022 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
By Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt (New York, 22 September)
Statement by Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt at opening of the meeting of the International Donor Group for Palestine (AHLC) in New York.
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It is a pleasure to welcome you all to this meeting of the AHLC. A warm welcome to Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and Director-General Alon Ushpiz. A special thanks to the UN for hosting us.
After statements from the UN, the Parties and the AHLC co-sponsors, the EU and the US, I will give the floor to fellow Ministers. This will be followed by short interventions from other rapporteurs: the World Bank, IMF and the Office of the Quartet. A special thanks to them for their reports to this meeting.
Deputy Ministers and other heads of delegations will then be given the floor – two minutes each. I urge all of us to keep our statements brief.
I now kindly ask the press to leave the room.
The AHLC has soon existed for three decades. Almost 30 years of Palestinian Authority. Of building Palestinian institutions. Of preparing the ground for a two-state solution. Of dialogue and cooperation.
But also of disappointments and backlashes. In particular for all the people affected by the conflict. They pay the highest price for the stalled peace process.
The situation on the ground is difficult and deeply worrying, in particular in the West Bank right now. We urge for de-escalation and cooperation to calm down the situation.
Our work in the AHLC is limited by the absence of a political horizon: There have not been real negotiations since 2014. In the meantime, our objective is to identify areas where we can work together. We must improve the situation. We must preserve and strengthen the Palestinian institutions. We must make the conditions on the ground possible for the two-state solution and lasting peace.
I thank the moderators of the working groups, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. We have secured some progress since the previous meeting:
- The PA reform of the wage bill and pension system is moving forward.
- The conditions for trade with Gaza and over Allenby Bridge have improved.
- Electronic payment of Palestinian workers in Israel is being established.
- More Palestinians from Gaza are working in Israel.
- There is progress on 4G discussions.
I applaud constructive efforts by the parties and others make progress on important issues. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Yet the list of asks from our previous meetings is long. Much remains to be followed up.
We regret that the Joint Economic Committee still hasn’t met. There is little movement on the transfer of customs authority to the PA and other fiscal files. Again, I call on both parties to take action on these and other matters. Both parties should show in words and in action that you want to achieve the two-state solution.
We urge Israel to take more active steps to strengthen the PA, and to improve the lives of the Palestinian people. The PA’s authority should be respected, and clearance revenues should be transferred.
Israel should continue to ease the restrictions on Gaza. We appeal you to stop actions that weaken the PA and that restrict the potential for the two-state solution, including settlement expansions, house demolitions and ongoing restrictions on Palestinian life.
Palestinians should be allowed to generate income from their land and resources, including in Area C.
We urge the Palestinian leadership to implement planned reforms, and to strengthen the democratic legitimacy of the PA.
The PA should follow up on decisions which may be unpopular in the short term, but will benefit the Palestinian economy in the long term.
I also urge Palestinians to come together under a unified leadership with a commitment to peace, including the abandonment of violence.
I would also like to appeal to the countries in the region, particularly those that have improved their relations with Israel, to make bridges across the conflict divide, to build trust. We see that changes in the region create new opportunities.
I am concerned by the reduction in foreign assistance to the Palestinians, including to the PA, but also to UNRWA. I encourage all of us to increase our contributions.
I look forward to a constructive discussion today on how we can support you to improve the situation on the ground. I am convinced that a two-state solution with the Palestinian and Israeli people living peacefully side by side is the best solution.