Tale/innlegg | Dato: 22.09.2009
- If the parties do their part to create a context in which credible and meaningful final status negotiations can be resumed, they will find the international donor community willing and committed to back them up, sa utenriksminister Støre bl.a. i sitt åpningsinnlegg under AHLC-møtet i New York 22. september 2009.
Opening Address by Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, Chair of the Ad-hoc Liaison Committee
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Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a privilege to welcome you all to this meeting of the AHLC here in New York. Let me first thank Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for graciously hosting this meeting here at the UN – and a special welcome to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the Israeli delegation.
Three months have passed since our last gathering in Oslo. There we reiterated the core purpose of the AHLC, which is that this undertaking by Palestinians, Israelis and the donor community can only add value if we work in concert with those making a dedicated effort on the political track.
Our mission is directly linked to our efforts to bring the peace process to a successful conclusion. Its purpose is to back up the quest for a two-state solution where Israeli occupation is replaced by a free and sovereign Palestinian state, living side by side with Israel in peace and security.
Since Oslo, dedicated efforts have been made to put the peace process back on track. We are nearing a moment of truth. The prospective two-state solution will not survive another abortive process.
I commend the Obama Administration, guided by Senator Mitchell, for its relentless efforts to bring the peace process forward. All eyes will be on President Obama, President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu when they meet here in New York today.
Also since Oslo, Prime Minister Fayyad has put forward a timely political programme aimed at building the institutions needed for a Palestinian state to function and prosper. This ambitious plan paves the way for ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state within the next two years.
These two initiatives constitute the political framework for turning the two-state vision into reality. They offer us the much needed momentum for the AHLC to keep mobilising and streamlining the contributions of donors.
As an introduction to today’s deliberations, let me make the following observations:
First, the national aspirations and right to self-determination of the Palestinian people are not conditional on the Palestinian Authority’s success in building a functioning state under occupation.
However, the Fayyad Government’s objective of building strong state institutions – in spite of the occupation – should be endorsed and fully supported by Israel and by Arab and international donors alike.
It is in everybody’s interest that once the Palestinian state sees the light of day, it is able to hit the ground running.
Second, that same ground cannot in the meantime be progressively eroded by Israeli land confiscations and settlement construction on occupied territory, whether in East Jerusalem or its West Bank hinterland. Neither must it be undermined by internal conflicts dividing the Palestinian Territory politically into separate entities.
The political issue of settlements must be resolved in arenas other than the AHLC. But since Israeli settlements impact directly on Palestinian economic development – or rather lack of development – it is an issue that falls within our remit, as was highlighted by the AHLC last year here at the UN and in Oslo last June. Because, as has been reiterated over and over, economic progress in the Palestinian Territory is an essential part of bringing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to an end.
We note and welcome recent Israeli measures to ease restrictions on movement and access in parts of the West Bank. These measures are important, but they still need to be accelerated and extended in a sustained fashion.
In this respect, I note with satisfaction that the revived Joint Liaison Committee is already taking an active part in facilitating concrete steps to improve conditions on the ground.
This body for tripartite cooperation has met three times since the June meeting of the AHLC in Oslo – as we will hear more about later today from the JLC Chair. I trust the JLC will continue to be a driving force at local level between our regular AHLC meetings.
My third point is that if the parties do their part to create a context in which credible and meaningful final status negotiations can be resumed, they will find the international donor community willing and committed to back them up.
Conversely, without forward movement and the political endgame clearly in sight, donors will have a hard time justifying support beyond their Paris pledges of 2007, which are due to expire next year.
That is why we urgently need to hear that the parties are firmly back on the final-status track, headed for the two-state destination. And that is why we are keenly awaiting a statement to this effect that is supported by the Middle East Quartet.
That said, my fourth point – which was my main point three months ago in Oslo – is that we cannot allow the Palestinian Authority to falter for lack of funds and revenue at this critical juncture. Its institutions are the very foundation of the future Palestinian state.
Here there has been some good news since June. Timely contributions from major donors like the US and Saudi Arabia have enabled the Fayyad Government to stave off the impending budget crisis for now.
However, additional budgetary support in the order of USD 400 million is needed to make up for the remaining shortfall in the 2009 budget.
Just as important, restrictions on commercial flows to, from and within all parts of the Palestinian Territory must be lifted without further delay.
This leads me to my final point, Gaza.
I have said this before, but it bears repeating now, more than seven months after UN Security Council resolution 1860 tasked the AHLC to help alleviate the humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza in connection with the devastating war:
If we leave Gaza to its own devices and fail to take appropriate action to ease the virtual strangle-hold on the people of Gaza, the only local growth sectors will be tunnel trafficking and militant radicalism.
Moreover, today’s thriving black market economy is diverting customs and tax revenue away from the Palestinian Authority, thus undermining its ability to regain its legitimate role and shoulder its responsibilities in Gaza.
As a result, the likelihood of a breakthrough in the intra-Palestinian process of reconciliation and national unity is reduced further. And so the prospects of reunifying the West Bank and Gaza as indivisible parts of one territory, under one authority, grow ever dimmer.
The larger political significance of this situation can hardly be overstated. Because in the absence of decisive steps towards Palestinian political and territorial unity, it is hard to see how a final-status agreement with Israel can be concluded, let alone implemented.