JERUSALEM, September 26, 2013 (WAFA) – Quartet Representative Tony Blair said successful political negotiations have to be supported and boosted by economic growth and development.
Blair’s comments came following presentation of the Quartet office’s report, the Palestinian Economic Initiative, to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHDL) meeting held in New York on Wednesday.
“The Economic Initiative represents an important acceptance that just as the economics cannot take precedence over the politics, so a successful political negotiation has to be supported and boosted by economic growth and development,” said Blair.
“The Economic Initiative looks to replace incremental change with transformative change,” he added.
The three-year Economic Initiative that is “designed to effect rapid and positive change in the Palestinian economy,” as came in the introduction, has analyzed eight sectors of the Palestinian economy and prepared detailed plans for implementation of such change.
The eight key sectors for investment and growth include construction and housing (including financing of personal mortgages), agriculture, a comprehensive plan to attract tourism, telecommunications and IT, power, water, and light manufacturing.
“It has been drawn up in consultation with Palestinians and Israelis, with the international investment community and international donors,” said Blair, who cautioned that “a benign political environment is pre-conditional to the success of the Initiative.”
It will rely on private Palestinian businesses, large and small, as well as multi-national companies. Government and other international organizations will be called upon to help with investment through facilities such as guarantees and insurance, but the emphasis will be on private business arrangements that can succeed and endure in the marketplace.
“Statehood is not just about maps and borders but about institutions, governance and a sustainable economy,” said Blair.
“This is the first time in history that such a fresh, comprehensive, innovative and broad approach has been taken: fresh in its reliance on the private sector rather than just public support; comprehensive in its involvement of nations and agencies from around the world; and broad in the support it can garner from both the Palestinian and Israeli sides,” he added.
However, said Blair, “Implementing the Economic Initiative requires significant commitment from both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Its’ success inevitably relies on implementing large-scale Israeli easing measures as well as a combination of boosted capacity within the Palestinian Authority and large new financing flows into the Palestinian economy.”
He said both the Israeli and Palestinian governments have indicated their broad support for the plan.
“This plan is not a substitute for a political solution,” concluded Blair. “On the contrary, it both hinges upon and aides this paramount objective. It will be difficult. Plans that are this fundamental do not unfold neatly or quickly. But it is a critical enabler for real progress to be made in the region, to the benefit of all.”