In a videoconference with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad yesterday, Secretary Clinton announced the transfer of $150 million in U.S. direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority to help it build a viable Palestinian state as part of the two-state solution. Clinton said the latest infusion of money brings the United States’ total direct budget assistance to $225 million for 2010 and overall U.S. support and investment to almost $600 million for 2010.
"This figure underscores the strong determination of the American people and this administration to stand with our Palestinian friends even during difficult economic times," the secretary of state said in announcing the transfer of funds.
The money — whose use will be carefully monitored by the United States, the World Bank, and the IMF — will go toward the important task of building a well-functioning Palestinian state. Clinton explained, "This new funding will help the Palestinian Authority pay down its debt, continue to deliver services and security to its people, and keep the progress going. It will support our work together to expand Palestinians’ access to schools, clinics, and clean drinking water in both the West Bank and Gaza. And it will allow Prime Minister Fayyad’s government to build and modernize courthouses and police stations, train judges and prosecutors, and launch new economic development initiatives."
This emphasis on building a viable Palestinian state accords with some of Elliott Abram’s advice for President Obama, as detailed in his recent FP piece, "Build Up the West Bank." Abrams writes that instead of focusing on an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, Obama should instead spend the rest of his term helping build a Palestinian state in the West Bank. He writes:
If you build it, they will sign. The only way to reassure Palestinians that a state is possible is to make one, and the only way to reassure Israelis that their security will be enhanced rather than diminished is for them to see it with their own eyes. That won’t happen for either side at Camp David or Oslo or Annapolis — only right there on the ground in the West Bank.
Here is a video of Clinton’s and Fayyad’s remarks: