Arab states criticised on Palestine

US secretary of state says countries not doing enough to help Palestinian cause.

    Blair said that the Palestinian economy can be improved [AFP]
    "Countries that have resources and that have an interest in the establishment of a Palestinian state need to put those resources at use now in order to lay the groundwork for the establishment of that state."
    The talks on the peace process come after George Bush, the US president, said this week that he remains hopeful of a peace deal before he leaves office in January, while warning that the Hamas movement currently ruling the Gaza Strip could "undermine" the effort.

    Bush, who formally restarted peace negotiations in November last year after a seven-year halt, said on Tuesday that he was "still hopeful we will get an agreement by the end of my presidency".

    The US president will visit Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt from May 13 to 18.

    Donors meeting

    Donor countries will also gather in London to discuss ways to revive the Palestinian economy.

    Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, will chair the Quartet meeting and also meet foreign ministers from a number of Arab states in an effort to develop economic institutions in the West Bank and Gaza.

    A Paris donor meeting last year netted $7.7bn in aid pledges to the Palestinians over three years.

    The money was aimed for the Palestinian budget, as well as reform and development programmes.

    The optimism that surrounded the pledges has long since faded, but diplomats hope an initiative to attract private sector investors may bear fruit.

    Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, now working as a Middle East envoy for the Quartet, is said to be working on the plan to spur economic development inside the Palestinian territories.

    He and Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, met investors on Thursday in effort to boost ecnomic growth.

    Blair said: "People talk about the problems they see on their TV screens, and we are not minimising that."

    "Yes, there are enormous problems. But the economy on the West Bank is actually growing and people are making money."

    Al Jazeera's Mark Seddon, reporting from London, said that the meeting is primarily aimed at getting the money pledged in 2006, into the Palestinian territories.

    He said: "Much of the $7.7bn hasn't reached the Palestinians."

    "What is also problematic is the Quartet's current policy of not talking to Hamas. But diplomats also want assurances from the group that they will try and contribute to the growth of their economies."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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