An international conference secured commitments of US$242 million on Tuesday for projects to strengthen the Palestinian police and judicial systems, sending what Germany’s foreign minister described as a “clear signal of support” for the building of a Palestinian state.
The money will go to projects including police training, building a forensic lab and prisons, installing communications networks, and building and running courthouses.
Organizers sought commitments of US$190 million going into the meeting, which brought together officials including Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa.
“The result, I must say, is that a clear signal of support for the building of a Palestinian state was sent from here today,” said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the conference host.
Officials stressed that improving the civilian security infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority — which controls only the West Bank after last year’s takeover of Gaza by the Islamic militant Hamas — was essential to creating a Palestinian state.
“It is not enough to determine the borders of a future Palestinian state,” Livni said as the conference opened. “When handing over the keys to the Palestinians, we must know that our neighbor is not a failed state or a terror state but a partner in peace.”
International Middle East envoy Tony Blair said upgrading security was essential regardless of whether progress is made toward a hoped-for Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by the end of the year, which would lead to the setting up of a Palestinian state.
“It matters to Palestinians that there is a proper authority for law and order but also ... it is easier, if there is that security capacity, for us then to put pressure for the [Israeli] occupation and the weight of it progressively to be lifted,” Blair said at a news conference.
Fayyad welcomed “a strong expression of support” for a Palestinian state.”
But he also said Israel must comply with international demands for a freeze in building Jewish settlements and change its “security behavior.”
He pointed to an Israeli raid on Tuesday in Nablus as “an example of the kind of activity that has to stop and stop immediately and promptly if, in fact, we are going to succeed in the provision of security to our people.”