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Peace for Israel requires a strong Palestinian Authority

If the building blocks of the Palestinian state-in-waiting are allowed to fall apart, the prospects for peace will collapse, too.

By Jonas Gahr Store / June 17, 2009


In Cairo, President Obama made an eloquent plea for peace in the Middle East, with a two-state solution at its heart. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded last week with endorsement of a two-state solution in his speech. Mr. Netanyahu presented demanding and problematic prerequisites for the establishing of a Palestinian state, but the fact remains – the scene is yet again set for political negotiations on a final settlement between Palestinians and Israelis.

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President Obama has urged Palestinians to focus on what they can build, "The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern." he said in his speech in Cairo.

The US president is right. But how is such development to occur? That is the question the international donor group known as the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) aimed to answer at a recent high-level meeting in Oslo. We assessed Palestine's dire economic situation, called on donors to live up to their pledges, and demanded that Israel lift restrictions that are crippling the Palestinian economy and the Palestinian Authority's process of reform.

We know now, as we knew in 1993 when the Oslo Accords were signed, that a strong, viable Palestinian Authority (PA) is the foundation upon which a future Palestinian state will stand.

Palestinians are a hardworking people, and once there is an independent Palestinian state that can regulate commerce, have access to markets, and enable investment and job creation, they will gladly do without foreign aid. But today, still under occupation, the PA is dependent on outside donors – and the PA is crumbling before our eyes.

With a projected budget deficit approaching $400 million over the next few months, the PA is struggling to pay public salaries and cover utility bills.

And while it may be too soon to speak of donor fatigue, there is tangible donor frustration as the governance institutions we've worked so hard to build up are literally torn down in military operations in Gaza and the West Bank since 2000.

Make no mistake: If the building blocks of the Palestinian state-in-waiting are allowed to fall apart, the prospects for peace will collapse, too.

After all, the international donor community's unwavering support to the Palestinians is political, not only humanitarian. Our goal is a free and sovereign Palestine, living side by side with Israel in peace and security.