Paris, 17. December 2007 Press release

Plassnik: "Solid foundation on the road to peace in the Middle East"

17.12.2007

Foreign Minister on Paris donor conference for the Palestinian Territories

Paris, 17 December 2007 - "The change toward peace in the Middle East introduced in Annapolis in late November has now obtained a solid financial foundation", said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, summing up the results of today’s Paris donor conference for the Palestinian Territories.

Plassnik: "The international donor community supports the Palestinian reform and development plan for the next three years presented by Prime Minister Fayad. This is a clear signal of confidence in the future of the Palestinian state. It will be necessary to develop the administration, the police, and the judiciary, and to get the economy going. It is particularly urgent, however, to visibly and tangibly improve the living conditions of Palestinians. The people in the Palestinian Territories need encouragement and perspectives. This is the only way of sustainably depriving extremism of its breeding ground."

"Peace in the Middle East also means more security in Europe", stressed the Foreign Minister. "Austria - together with its EU partners - will continue to make concrete contributions in the future. Currently, one million Palestinians rely on humanitarian assistance just to survive. Our objective is to achieve a transition from emergency aid to economic development. The Austrian assistance should benefit in particular those programmes that open new opportunities to Palestinian women and youth. The focus will be on further education, targeted vocational preparation, and financial backing for startups. In addition, the health sector shall remain a core area of the Austrian Development Cooperation in the Palestinian Territories."

Plassnik: "On the stony path to reconciliation and search for peace, Annapolis gives reason to justified confidence for the first time in years. We must exploit and support this momentum. Europe's neighbourhood is at stake. Here in Paris, we made a practical contribution toward a two-state solution. The moderate Palestinian forces must be further strengthened. Israel can and must make a significant contribution toward this. For a tangible progress toward peace and Palestinian statehood, a freeze in the construction of settlements and the dividing wall, and a discontinuation of military campaigns in the West Bank and on the Gaza Strip are urgently required. All parties involved in the peace process and the Arab neighbours have to be anxious to keep their promises."

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