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Palestinian Authority

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the role of the UK has been in implementing International Community Commitments under the March 2005 London Meeting on Supporting the Palestinian Authority. (95350)

Since the London Meeting in March 2005, the UK has taken a number of steps to implement the International Community Commitments. The Palestinian Authority (PA) also had a number of Commitments to implement in parallel. These Commitments include action to address economic development, governance and security. The UK has been encouraging international partners to implement the International Community Commitments.

With regards to economic development, in December 2005 the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee, co-chaired by the UK and Norway, met in London. Also in December 2005, HM Treasury held a private sector business/ investment event.

Under the UK’s Presidency of the EU, an international crossing point at Rafah was opened. The UK was closely involved in the negotiations. Our total financial contribution to the EU Border Assistance Mission at Rafah is £913,000. This financial contribution includes personnel, equipment and financial contribution. Also, the UK seconded a member of staff to the UN Office for the Co-ordination for Humanitarian Affairs to identify physical obstacles to movement in the West Bank which can be removed.

On governance, we provided over £200,000-worth of assistance for the Palestinian elections which were held on 25 January. In particular we worked with the electoral authorities to support work on media monitoring, training local journalists and funding the ballot papers. In addition, as well as supporting the official EU monitoring observation mission, we also separately funded a small parliamentary observation visit to the region organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

The Department for International Development provided long-term assistance to the PA for the design and implementation of its Public Administration and Civil Service Support Programme. This included work on strengthening Cabinet policy-making, reviewing the mandates and institutional structures of all PA agencies, and assisting with the Medium-Term Development Plan. Direct engagement with the PA has been suspended since the formation of the Hamas-led Government, although work is ongoing with a range of partner civil society organisations active in this field.

On security, the EU expanded its police support mission, EU Co-ordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EU COPPS), in January 2006, to help transform the Palestinian police and make them more accountable to the Palestinian Ministry of the Interior. Through EU COPPS, the UK has helped to: support the PA in reforming its civil policing structures; improve the effectiveness, efficiency and image of 18,600 police officers; rebuild and modernise police facilities; purchase 54 police cars; provide training and equipment and co-ordinate better the international donor community’s support for the Palestinian police.

Since the Hamas-led PA came to power, there has been limited progress against both the International Community Commitments and the PA Commitments.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in implementing International Community Commitments agreed under the March 2005 London Meeting on Supporting the Palestinian Authority in the areas of (a) economy, (b) governance and (c) security. (95351)

Since 1 March 2005, the International Community has made some progress against their commitments made at the London Meeting. The UK has been involved in much of the work that the International Community has done to make progress against these commitments. I refer the right hon. Member to the written answer I gave him today (UIN 95350).

In terms of economic development, in June 2005 G8 leaders supported the former Quartet Special Envoy James Wolfensohn’s intention to stimulate a global financial contribution of up to US$3 billion per year over the coming three years. Also, on 15 November 2005, the EU High Representative Javier Solana, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and James Wolfensohn announced an Agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians on Movement and Access.

On security, United States Security Co-ordinator General Ward and his successor, General Dayton, have been working closely with the Palestinians on Security Sector Reform (SSR). Since March 2005 progress has been made including developing capacity within the Ministry of Interior, establishing international co-ordination mechanisms for SSR and developing consensus around an SSR approach, and facilitating an upgrade of the Palestinian security forces’ capability. Following the election of Hamas, the international community suspended previous security sector work. Since then General Dayton has been developing a range of plans, which the international community can implement in the current political circumstances, and which will deliver tangible improvements in the day-to-day lives of Palestinians. We have been working closely with General Dayton’s team on these plans. Donors, including ourselves, are looking at funding options.

With regards to governance, the EU, as well as other international partners, provided support to the Palestinian Legislative Council elections on 25 January.

Since Hamas came to power, and failed to meet the three Quartet principles (renouncing violence; recognise Israel; and accept all previous agreements and obligations including the Roadmap), work on meeting the International Community Commitments has slowed. We, along with our international partners, want to see a Palestinian Government with whom we can engage and do business.