WEST BANK: Palestinian development plan looks at period after state creation
When Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad met the donor coordination group for the Palestinian territory, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), on April 13 in Brussels, he presented them with his new National Development Plan (NDP) 2011-2013, titled Establishing the State, Building our Future.
In the foreword of the report, Fayyad wrote: “We stand today on the verge of national readiness for the birth of the State of Palestine. … The journey has been long and arduous, but the end is now in sight –- we are now in the homestretch to freedom.”
Fayyad’s first two-year program, Palestine: Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State, was introduced in August 2009. It envisioned building the institutions for a viable state by August 2011 so that when the Palestinians go to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2011 to demand international recognition of an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, they will be able to convince the international community of their readiness.
Fayyad got a strong boost at the AHLC meeting from three major and credible international bodies: the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations. All three gave Fayyad’s plan high scores, confirming that the Palestinians will be ready by September to have their own state.
The NDP was designed as a development plan to follow establishment of the state. It builds on what the first plan started. “At this historic juncture in our struggle for freedom,” wrote Fayyad, “implementing the NDP will bring to fruition the effort to build a sovereign Palestine.”
When the donor countries meet in Paris in June to discuss new aid to the Palestinians, the NDP will be on the table. They will be asked to pledge some $5 billion for the plan to work and $500 million to prepare East Jerusalem to become the capital of the Palestinian state.
Ali Jirbawi, the Palestinian official who headed the team that wrote the NDP and the earlier report, discussed the new plan Wednesday with a group of Palestinian representatives of civil society organizations and other government bodies.
He said his team held 240 consultation meetings with the participation of 2,000 people representing various sectors of the Palestinian society to prepare the NDP.
In the end, the team came up with the NDP, which covers four sectors: governance, social, economy and infrastructure.
Jirbawi said the NDP is a development plan that identifies priorities and works on implementing them.
But some of the areas it focuses on, such as rural areas and the Jordan Valley, are part of the West Bank under Israeli military rule, and Israel is not willing at this time to allow the Palestinians to develop or have control over these areas.
Jirbawi and Fayyad recognize that the Israeli occupation remains the major impediment for the implementation of this ambitious plan, not to mention the dream of having an independent state by September. Another impediment is the division between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
One scenario of the plan is that all obstacles facing its implementation, such as the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and the Israeli military checkpoints all over the West Bank, will be removed to allow economic growth.
“The ceiling is ending the occupation so that there will be rapid growth in the economy,” said Jirbawi.
-- Maher Abukhater in Ramallah, West Bank