July 20, 2008

British PM Praises Palestinian President’s Leadership, Pledges Additional Aid

Excerpt from report by Palestinian news agency Wafa website

["His Excellency in Joint Press Conference with British Prime Minister: Deeply Concerned Over the Fact That Israel Does Not Abide by Principles, Spirit of the Annapolis Conference" - WAFA headline]

Bethlehem, 20 Jul (WAFA) - [Passage omitted] For his part, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged to present additional $60 million to the PNA: $30 million for the PNA budget, thus raising the overall sum his country transferred to the PNA budge to $175 million, and $30 million for building housing units and creating approximately 50,000 jobs in the Palestinian territories.

Brown praised at length President Mahmud Abbas's courage and seriousness towards the peace process as well as his ability to lead the Palestinian people, saying: "I salute President Abbas for his leadership of the Palestinian people. This man dedicated his life to attain peace and build a Palestinian state; something that is praiseworthy."

He also praised Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for his diligent efforts to institutionalize the Palestinian state and establish peace. He said: "As a child, I learned about Bethlehem that it is a symbol of peace. We see the need for justice, an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people, and for the establishment of a viable state."

He said that during their meeting, he affirmed to Abbas his support of the PNA and its various efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people, especially in the economic realm. He added: "We are in favour of a solution within the 1967 borderlines and having Jerusalem as the capital of both people."

Brown stressed the need to put an end to Israeli settlement activity in the Palestinian territories as well as violence there. He pledged to continue the UK support for the PNA so as to bolster the Palestinian security services. He said his country presented $500 million to the PNA so that it would be able to provide essential services in the Palestinian territories. He added that he brought with him a group of businessmen and investors to view ways to invest in Palestine. He said: "I was happy to take part in the investment conference in Bethlehem. We would like to host another conference in London."

He noted that the settlement expansion in the Palestinian areas has complicated the peace process and increased the suffering of the Palestinian people, indicating that Israel must make concessions to attain peace. He further stressed the importance to create jobs and small projects, deal with the industrial needs, and support "economic prosperity in the Palestinian areas not only for this generation but for future generations as well so that the Palestinian citizens will sense a positive change in their lives."

He noted that he will raise all the issues he discussed with Abbas with Israeli Prime minister Ehud Olmert. He went on to say that he sensed a real desire to attain peace, end the conflict, and reach a just solution. He expressed the will to establish a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel.

He also expressed his gratitude to Tony Blair for his efforts and diligent work in the region, saying: "Mr Blair briefed me on the projects he is currently engaged in and we provide him with the necessary support."

Originally published by Palestinian news agency Wafa website, Gaza, in Arabic 1020 20 Jul 08.

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