Daily Israel Report

70 Nations at Day-Long Conference for Palestinian State

Paris, Monday: Efforts to raise billions of dollars in pledges for a Palestinian state - that could harm chances for peace in the Middle East.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 12/16/2007, 11:19 AM

Representatives of some 70 nations and another 20 international delegations will convene in Paris on Monday in a one-day "Conference of Donors for a Palestinian State." The goal is to raise hundreds of millions of dollars, or more, on behalf of a Palestinian state adjoining, crowding - and threatening - the State of Israel. 

The event is being held as a continuation of sorts of last month's Annapolis Summit, at which Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed to begin final-status talks.  The agreement flew in the face of the U.S.-sponsored Road Map plan, which specified that the PA must stop anti-Israel terrorism from within the areas under its control before final-status talks could begin.

Among the international representatives taking part in the Monday conference in Paris are UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.  Quartet Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair, who recently stepped down as Britain's Prime Minister, will co-chair the event. 

Participating organizations include the European Commission, the Arab League, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and European and Arab financial funds.  All 27 members of the European Union will be represented, as will be Middle East countries, the Group of Eight industrialized nations, Brazil, China, India and Norway.

Houses for Arabs - But Not for Jews
PA chairman Mahmud Abbas, who also heads the Fatah terrorist organization, is seeking $5.6 billion dollars over the coming three years for various needs of a state-in-the-making.  Among them are thousands of Arab housing units to be built throughout Judea and Samaria - to which Israel has already reportedly agreed.

At the same time, Israel has imposed a ban - under American pressure - on Jewish construction in these areas.
The PA is asking for money for development projects for education, health, business, and more.  Some 30-40% of the projects are to be in Hamas-controlled Gaza, with guarantees to ensure that the funds do not reach Hamas.  Such guarantees have been only partially effective in the past. 

Analysts expect a common thread to run through many of the speeches at the conference: Pressure and demands upon Israel to remove security checkpoints in Judea and Samaria.  This, despite the fact that they actually aid the PA in fulfilling its commitment to fight terrorism; Israeli soldiers frequently detect would-be terrorists who attempt to smuggle weapons or explosives into Israel via the checkpoints.

The Dangers of a Palestinian State
Though it is the position of world opinion, the Bush Administration and Prime Minister Olmert's government that a Palestinian state is necessary, many analysts feel otherwise.  Objections include military, religious and political considerations.  Even Shimon Peres, in his book, "Tomorrow is Now," resounding opposed a Palestinian state, writing, "During a war, the borders of the Palestinian state will serve as an ideal springboard for mobile forces to immediately breach Israeli defenses towards the infrastructure vital to Israel's existence, to limit the freedom of action of the Israeli Air Force in Israeli skies, and to shed the population's blood through 'masses of artillery positions' proximity to the border.  In the absence of defensible borders, Israel will be annihilated in a war."

Yitzchak Rabin wrote in his memoirs, "Palestine will rise upon the ruins of the State of Israel."

Shmuel Katz, co-founder of the Herut Party with Menachem Begin and an MK of the First Knesset, wrote, "If the Arabs were given a state in a part of Palestine, they would surely accept it as the next of the 'phases'  for attaining the rest of the country – which they have been forecasting for years. It would inevitably make a serious contribution to the grievous weakening of Israel, strategically and politically. It is illusory in the extreme – and shockingly misleading – to suggest that it will bring peace."