The United States, Europe and other donors are preparing to launch a three-year, $1.2-billion emergency aid program for the West Bank and Gaza Strip to help ensure the success of Palestinian self-rule, the World Bank said Monday.
"If the peace process has any hope of success, the Palestinians need to see improvements in their living conditions very quickly," World Bank Vice President Caio Koch-Weser said. "The international community is betting that this program can jump-start the Palestinian economy."
Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization are expected to sign an agreement Wednesday ushering in Palestinian self-government in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank district of Jericho.
The three-year program, which was drawn up by the World Bank in close consultation with the Palestinians and with donor nations, aims to rebuild the dilapidated economy of the occupied territories and reignite growth. Under the plan, about $200 in annual aid per person would flow into the West Bank and Gaza over the next three years.
The $1.2 billion in emergency assistance is the first installment of a $2.4-billion, five-year program of aid for the occupied territories. The European Union is contributing $600 million to that plan; other large contributors are the United States with $500 million and Japan with $200 million.
About half of the $1.2 billion in emergency aid will be earmarked for improving such basic services as transportation, water supply, housing and education.