The Paris Middle-East Conference sponsored by countries-donors of the Middle East Settlement became the first step in implementation of agreements reached at the International Conference in Annapolis, Maryland, late this October.
Such short interval between the conferences proves first of all that the international community understands growing danger of the escalating conflict between Palestine and Israel, and that the mediators once again try to put the negotiations between the conflicting parties in motion and impart irreversible peaceful character to the process. .
The Conference was opened by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and President of the Palestinian National Autonomy (PNA) Mahmoud Abbas. “It is extremely important to stabilize the economy of Palestine and take measures to improve the living standards of the Palestinians”, the French leader said.
The Palestinian leader agreed with him and urged all participants of the Conference to support his request about provision of US$ 5.6 billion over the next three years to Palestine for recovery and development of its destroyed economy.
On the eve of the Paris Conference, the USA claimed that it is ready to provide more than US$ 550 million to the Palestinians in 2008. Addressing the Conference, US Secretary of State Candoleezza Rice confirmed this intention. It is also decided that the EU will provide US$ 650 million and Japan – US$ 150 million. In so doing, 50 per cent of the sum will be spent to fund the Palestinian Budget and the remaining 30 per cent – to implement new economic projects.
Taking into consideration the resolute desire of the “International Quartet” (EU, Russia, USA and France), the agreement on provision of such a record amount to the Palestinians may be reached. However, the key problem is not in the financial resources, a major part of which will settle down on bank accounts of the persons who are far from being poor and who are absolutely not interested in peacemaking. Including both the Palestinians and the Israelis. The experience of numerous previous efforts of the Middle East Settlement confirms it, and nothing can be changed.
Sergey Lavrov is sure that currently the key problem is in reaching the national conciliation both in Palestine and in Israel. The financial donations may temporary deaden the controversies but they cannot settle them finally. .
Leaders of “Islamic Resistance Movement” (HAMAS), which influence radically increased during the last civil disobedience campaign (Intifada), refused to accept the PNA policy and went to open confrontation and withdrawal of a part of Palestine, the Gaza Strip, out of the PNA jurisdiction.
All efforts to convince HAMAS in erroneousness of this policy so far failed to be positive. Talks of Head of HAMAS Political Council Haled Mashaal originally in Moscow and later in Riad and Tehran hold out a hope of a positive solution.
The same in Israel. Local radicals insist on a ‘trimmed” territory of future Palestine, actually, not accepting a possibility to create a new independent Arab country, to assign a status of an international capital to Jerusalem… They first of all instigate the Israelis to continue the conflict with the Palestinians.
It is quite possible to understand both. Who will like periodic rocket strikes on peaceful Jewish settlements in Palestine border areas? On the other hand, can the Palestinians reconcile themselves to the efforts of the Israelis to retain a large and anything but not the worst part of the Palestine territory under their control?
Meanwhile… “water finds its own level”. The Palestinians regularly fire hand-made rockets “Quasam” at the Israelis who respond with pinpoint air attacks to kill mid-level commanders of combat units and functionaries of HAMAS”.
Only at night on December 18, four Israel AF helicopter gunship strikes in the Gaza Strip killed nine Palestinian combatants. At the same time, 11 wanted functionaries of radical group “Islamic Jihad” were arrested on the Western Bank of the Jordan River.
In substance, a formula for the PNA is rather simple – the Palestinians will fight until Moscow convinces, Riad “presses”, Tehran abandons and Washington gives.
A formula for Israel is a bit different - the Israelis will not agree until Washington gives, “presses” and abandons and Moscow convinces.
Therefore, in this process everybody will have to be “pressed” and convinced, somebody will be abandoned and everybody will be given. But apparently the money should be given only after the aforesaid is done.
So, “the money – in the morning, the chairs – at night”. Visa versa the present Conference will have the same results as the previous ones.