The European Commission welcomes the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip and Northern parts of the West Bank as a significant step towards implementing the Quartet Roadmap. The Commission is particularly encouraged by the close coordination and the restraint shown by Israelis and Palestinians which attest to the courage and commitment of both sides.
Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said:
“I am heartened by the manner in which the preliminary stages of disengagement from Gaza and Northern parts of the West Bank have taken place. I am conscious, however, that this is only the beginning, and the challenges that lie ahead are immense. To address some of these challenges the Commission is preparing a new financial package of €60 million to rebuild infrastructure and strengthen Palestinian institutions in the Gaza Strip. I shall be announcing further details of this package in September.”
In support of disengagement and the peace process, the Commission is preparing a specific package to accompany disengagement. This is designed to provide support for new projects particularly in the field of customs administration, transport and energy supply, infrastructure and health and social services. Selection of specific projects will be done together with the Palestinian Authority and in close co-ordination with Member States and the Quartet’s Special Envoy, Mr Wolfensohn. These measures come on top of a €20 million package announced previously for social support to refugees in the Gaza Strip.
The Commission will continue its efforts to develop good governance and democracy in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip in line with European Neighbourhood Policy priorities and the Quartet Roadmap. This includes its extensive support to the PA electoral process, the public system of financial management and the rule of law.
Total EC support to the Palestinians in 2005 is expected to exceed €250 million.