RAMALLAH, West Bank -- U.S. Secretary of State
A conference in Prague brought together some 100 international businesspeople, investors, financiers,
When Kerry launched his Palestinian-Israeli peace program at the end of July, he pledged to muster $4 billion to help boost the Palestinian economy, saying that a strong economy would be good for peace.
The two-day conference organized by
Blair emphasized that the economic plan is a complementary process to the political negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and is not a substitute, a news release by the quartet's Jerusalem office said Sunday.
The conference discussed "an economic initiative designed to bring about transformative change and substantial growth in the Palestinian economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs," the release also said.
The economic effort is Blair's Initiative for the Palestinian Economy, or IPE, described as "an ambitious, multiyear plan drafted by a team of policy advisors, external economic analysts and international domain experts."
Speaking at the opening event Saturday, Blair said the initiative goes into "granular detail" that "sets out what we need from the private sector, the international financial institutions and the governments" of Israel and the Palestinians.
He added that measures are now needed that "improve not just the economy in the most basic sense, but also the economy in the sense that people feel that Palestinian statehood can become a reality because they see around them the developments within the Palestinian territories that are consistent with statehood."
Former U.S. Secretary of State
The deputy Palestinian prime minister for economic affairs, Muhammad Mustafa, briefed the conference on the "difficult and challenging conditions on the ground in the absence of independence," but emphasized that the Palestinian economy has "all the ingredients of a very successful and prosperous economy."
The IPE covers eight key economic sectors for private-sector-led growth in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. It encompasses construction, including of badly needed housing for Palestinians in East Jerusalem; building materials; agriculture; tourism; information and communication technology; energy; water; and light manufacturing.
However, its success requires new sources of financing, as well as "easing measures" by Israel and institutional improvements in the Palestinian Authority, according to the IPE plan overview.
In addition to the quartet, the Prague conference was convened by the
Among the international organizations present were