UN-backed meeting agrees to development agenda for Palestinian territories

30 July 2003

Development experts gathered at a United Nations-backed consultative meeting on rehabilitation in the occupied Palestinian territories have decided that next year’s Arab-International Forum should lay the groundwork for realizing the vision of a Palestinian state.

UN agencies, Arab and international experts meeting in Beirut concluded two-days of discussions today aiming to prepare for the Arab-International Forum on Palestine Rehabilitation and Development, which will be hosted by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) early next year.

Participants at the meeting agreed that the Forum would aim to develop a Palestinian vision for reconstruction and development, intensify Arab efforts in support of reconstruction and development, integrate the efforts of regional and international organizations, and call for the contribution of donors to achieve reconstruction and development.

At a press conference, ESCWA Executive Secretary Mervat Tallawy told reporters that due to the fact that two-thirds of the Palestinian people live under the poverty line, an ESCWA mission was delegated to Palestine to explore the needs of the people, and that the Israeli occupation was the major reason for the bad living conditions of Palestinians.

She said the most important benefit of the meeting had been the remarkable presence of the invitees and the support of the Palestinian Authority as well as the League of Arab States – two of the meeting’s co-sponsors along with ESCWA.

“The presentation of the Palestinian plan in the economic and social sectors; the role of civil society organizations and the private sector; the link between the Palestinian economy and that of the Arab States; and the role of regional-international organizations in the reconstruction process, will be the main agenda items of the upcoming Forum,” she said.

The meeting was organized in cooperation with the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The gathering aimed to keep the social and economic issues and needs in the occupied Palestinian territories on the agenda of the international community, in-spite of the lack of stability in the region, and its main task was to define the objectives of the Forum, identify its specific themes for deliberations and widen the preparatory process as much as possible.

 

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