SUMMARY OF REMARKS TO THE MEDIA IN BRUSSELS BY THE FOREIGN MINISTRY’S DIRECTOR-GENERAL CONCERNING FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR THE PALESTINIANS

Following are remarks by the Foreign Ministry’s Director-General, Uri Savir, to representatives of the media in Brussels at the close of the Donors Conference (April 12, 1996):

(A) The meeting of the Donors Conference in Brussels:

The purpose of this meeting was to try to find ways to help the Palestinian economy, which is now in distress as a result of the repercussions of the terrorist attacks by Hamas, and the security measures Israel needed to adopt. There is a basic Israeli-Palestinian agreement concerning the existence of a common enemy, and at the same time, of the need to take security measures, while easing the economic suffering of the residents.

An appeal was jointly made with the Palestinians to the donor nations to step up their efforts to help the economy of the West Bank and Gaza, because it is clear that, in the present emergency situation, such assistance is tremendously important.

At the meeting, the World Bank report was submitted reviewing the types of projects for which financing was decided at the Donors Conference held in Paris in January. At the same session, the donor countries undertook assistance in the amount of $500-million. The report indicates that only $27-million of that sum have actually been made available.

The message to the donor nations is that if they would merely implement the commitments they took upon themselves, most of the economic difficulties would be alleviated. It was decided that there is a need to increase the frequency of the Conference’s sessions and to dispatch a mission to examine if the amounts budgeted are being channelled to projects.

As for Israel, she has expressed readiness to act at several levels:

* Transferring $30-million of monthly indirect taxes collected on behalf of the Palestinians;

* Easing the passage of goods to and from the Territories. As of now, some 500 trucks go through daily and the aim is to raise this to 750, to roughly the level that prevailed before the closure. In addition, the intention is to increase the passage of goods across the Jordanian and Egyptian borders. All this will enable not only the shipment of food, but also essential basic elements for employment, such as importing materials for construction, and exporting agricultural produce, mainly citrus fruits and flowers.

Concerning the donor countries, they understand that the present emergency situation requires increased assistance. Some countries have expressed a willingness to intensify their efforts in measures to create employment particularly Norway, but also the U.S., countries of the European Union, and Japan.

(B) Coordination with the Palestinians has improved in recent weeks, while the Palestinian Authority is adopting more effective measures in Gaza. We are not far from the point where there will be a more intensive renewal of the peace process between Israel and the Authority, despite Hamas’s efforts to torpedo it.

(C) The European dialogue with Iran:

No positive results at all are yet forthcoming from the European dialogue with Iran. There is a necessity for more emphasis on criticism and less on dialogue when clear evidence exists that this country [Iran] is supporting and advancing terrorism. In principle, there is logic in continuing the dialogue to the extent that it works to restrain the Iranian regime and prevent endangering the peace process. The success of that process, ultimately, is very important for Europe, too. But that is not what is happening.