Miliband to host Palestinian aid meeting in London

By Leon Symons, April 18, 2008

Foreign secretary David Miliband is likely to use a London meeting next month of the ad hoc liaison committee for the co-ordination of international aid to Palestinians to put pressure on Israel to ease the blockade of Gaza.

But the Palestinian Authority will also feel the heat over Hamas’s continued rocket attacks on Sderot and elsewhere, which have contributed to Israel’s tough stance on Gaza.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will be joining the foreign ministers of all the governments involved in the committee at its first full meeting this year, the first since it met at the United Nations last September.

Though Mr Miliband will be hosting the meeting, it will be chaired by Norway’s Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre. Norway has been in charge of the liaison committee since it was created after the Oslo Accords in 1994. It was set up to support the economic development and building of the infrastructure in the West Bank, Gaza and Palestinian society as a whole.

At a meeting of the donor conference in December, a plan was unveiled to give the Palestinian Authority $7.7bn (£3.75bn) in the next three years.

Signe Guro Gilen, a senior adviser in the Norwegian Foreign Ministry’s Middle East section, said this week: “It is important that the international community stands behind the effort to take the discussions [between Israel and the PA] further. Gaza is integral. There needs to be activity by all those involved to help to create a viable economy for the Palestinian area.”

Last updated: 4:40pm, May 13 2008