Gerry Rice (202) 473-1842
Sereen Juma (202) 473-7199
LONDON, March 1, 2005 - The World Bank today reaffirmed its commitment to support the reform efforts of the Palestinian Authority and will continue to help raise short-term emergency budgetary support as well as medium-term development assistance. At a meeting of the international community held in London, the Bank said it will also work with investors to help stimulate private sector re-engagement in the Palestinian economy.
“The Israeli government and its citizens need to know that they will not be exposed to violence and terror. An important element will be restoring self-respect and hope to Palestinian youth” said James D. Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank. “For this to happen, closure must be dismantled so that economic activity can resume, jobs created and mutual confidence rebuilt. And to attract back investors, a well-managed, transparent administration is vital. We in the World Bank will do all we can to help create these preconditions for growth and peace”.
Wolfensohn indicated that three elements are essential to achieve Palestinian economic recovery: an environment in which the security of both Palestinians and Israelis is assured; the dismantling of the closure regime to allow for an expansion of trade within Gaza and the West Bank, with Israel and beyond; and the implementation of a reinvigorated governance reform program. This would include a strong anti-corruption strategy, tightened fiscal discipline to avoid serious budgetary imbalances, and vigorous legal and judicial reform.
At the request of the international community, the Bank is developing a set of indicators to assess progress towards the reemergence of an environment conducive to Palestinian growth, with a focus on the policies that each party – Palestinians, Israelis and the international community – needs to pursue. These indicators will be reviewed quarterly. The first report is due at the end of March 2005. Once significant progress has been made, a donor pledging conference will be organized, hopefully in the middle of 2005.
“Only with the maintenance of security, the lifting of closures, a sincere governance reform effort and, importantly, additional international financial assistance, will the Palestinian economy be able to recover and long-term peace be achievable,” Wolfensohn concluded.