Israel warns PA its UN bid could impact economic aid

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon: It's incumbent on the Palestinian leadership to return to the path of negotiations.

By JORDANA HORN, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
September 20, 2011 04:12
3 minute read.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon

Danny Ayalon 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

NEW YORK – Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon warned the United Nations Palestinian Donors Conference Sunday night that while Israel would prefer to continue to facilitate Palestinian economic development, this could change if the Palestinians opt to unilaterally declare a state.

The conference chairwoman, Norway Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, said that the work done “to build robust state institutions and revive the Palestinian economy stand out as a remarkable international success story.”

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“Today we have reconfirmed, based on the World Bank, the IMF and the United Nations that this progress is still solid,” Støre told reporters in summarizing the more than three-hour meeting Sunday night.

However, “future assistance and cooperation could be severely and irreparably compromised if the Palestinian leadership continues on its path of essentially acting in contravention of all signed agreements, which also regulate existing economic relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” Ayalon told the conference Sunday night, hosted by Under-Secretary- General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe.

The Palestinians were represented by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Ayalon expressed condolences to Støre for the recent terror attacks in Norway, then went on to underline that Israel “places great importance in the long-term financial stability of the Palestinian Authority.”

Ayalon pointed out that many in the donor community had pledged “significant” funds to the Palestinian Authority, but said that “it is difficult to ignore the limited mobilization of the Arab countries in providing assistance to the Palestinian Authority’s budget.”

Saying that the recent World Bank report noted a significant drop in aid to Palestinians from the Arab world, Ayalon said the Arab world could provide greater financial support, adding that “many of the public statements of support for the Palestinians from the Arab world seemingly belie their true priorities.”

Ayalon complimented Fayyad for his work. At the same time, Ayalon said, a “counter-process” of terror prevails in Gaza, led by Hamas, which continues to hold Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit captive after five years and to subject Israelis to incessant rocket fire.

Ayalon cited various infrastructure projects approved by Israel in Gaza, including rehabilitation of hospitals and clinics for the benefit of the civilian population, despite what he called the “economy of the tunnels” for arms smuggling.

“In spite of continuing attacks, we have not stopped carrying out our commitments to the civilians in Gaza,” Ayalon told the conference.

“All of us here in this room stand united towards the singular purpose of improving the lives and prosperity of the Palestinian people,” Ayalon said, noting that Israel is committed to this principle.

However, Ayalon said, “The Palestinian Authority’s path of unilateralism and reneging on its commitments bode extremely ill, not just for a peaceful resolution to our conflict, but the immediate future. If the Palestinian Authority is staking a path – not just against its signed commitments, but against the norms and standards of international peace-making – then it will prove very hard for the State of Israel to continue a process abandoned by its partners and co-signatories.

“The State of Israel signed the Oslo Accords with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which created the Palestinian Authority. Israel will have absolutely no obligations towards a so-called Palestinian state – especially one created artificially in this building, in breach of these very accords,” Ayalon told the donors conference.

It is especially incumbent upon donors to the Palestinian Authority, Ayalon said, to ask for minimal standards of diplomatic practice by the Palestinians.

“They should do their best to turn the Palestinian leadership away from confrontational and provocative unilateral steps and lead them back to the negotiating table where they will find a waiting Israeli government intent on finding solutions to all the outstanding issues with a view to arriving at a real and lasting end to our conflict.”

Ayalon called on the Palestinians to immediately return to the negotiating table.

“It is incumbent on the Palestinian leadership to return to the path of negotiation, compromise and cooperation and lead its people towards the goals set by the international community - two states for two peoples solution, living in enduring peace and security.”

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