Palestinian Prime Minister Selim Fayad said Monday he hopes a donors conference next week will yield $5.6 billion to stoke the economy and lay the basis for an independent state by 2011. Fayad briefed European Union foreign ministers on his plan for economic renewal and good governance following last month's Middle East conference in Annapolis, Maryland. At Annapolis, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to resume peace talks. [Hilfsgelder: Ferrero-Waldner unter Beschuss des EU-Parlaments] The International Monetary Fund has come out in support of a Palestinian plan for economic reform and recovery that would require about $5.6 billion (€3.8 billion) in foreign aid over three years. The Palestinian proposal is "ambitious, but also achievable," the IMF wrote in a report obtained by The Associated Press on Monday, ahead of next week's meeting of donor countries in Paris where the Palestinians will formally request the money. ... Of the sum, about 70 percent would go for budget support and the rest to development programs. .. For the plan to work, Israel must relax its restrictions on movement and trade in the Palestinian territories, the IMF report said. Such restrictions, first imposed after the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000, are seen as a major obstacle to economic recovery. "Donor assistance will also need to be scaled up, both to finance the recurrent budget deficit (an average of $1.3 billion (€880 million) a year over 2008-2010) and for the public investment program (an average of $550 million (€374 million) a year)," the IMF report said.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt are pushing Hamas and Fatah to meet in an effort to resolve the deep rift in the Palestinian movements, as Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal visits Riyadh this week. Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha said that Meshal, who arrived in Riyadh on Saturday, would meet with senior Saudi officials to update them on the status of contact between Fatah and Hamas, which of late, has reached a dead-end. [Durchaus beachtlich nachdem einige der Hamas eine Niederlage wegen der Teilnahme der Saudis in annapolis unterstellten.] + The Tunis-based head of the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) Political Department, Farouk Al-Qaddoumi, called for the restoration of Palestinian unity through reactivation of the PLO on Monday.
Iran: FT: Iran signed a $2bn oil contract with Sinopec of China on Sunday, sending a signal to western companies that they might miss out on potentially lucrative contracts with one of the world’s biggest energy exporters if they continued to heed US-inspired sanctions against Tehran. + "Despite the American intelligence report on the Iranian nuclear program, Iran still poses a major threat to the region," spokesman of Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday before Mullen's meeting with IDF Chief of General staff Lt-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. + "It is unlikely that Israel will succeed in changing the report," said former head of the National Security Council Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland. "The report is based on assessments - theirs against ours - and since we don't have a smoking gun to prove otherwise, it will stay the same for now." + The European Union will pursue its line of offering negotiations to Iran over inducements to halt uranium enrichment while backing moves towards UN sanctions, the bloc's negotiator with Tehran said on Monday. "For the moment the EU position has not been changed and there is no question of its changing. That is the dual-track approach," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told reporters in Brussels. [dual track for dual-use. Fascinating] + The CIA launched a secret program two years ago designed to degrade Iran's nuclear weapons program by persuading key officials to defect, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.
Egyptian security forces have found 500 kilograms of TNT explosives in the northern Sinai desert believed to be destined for the Gaza Strip, a security official said Monday. Zwischen gestern Abend und heute Abend sechs Qassam-Raketen-Abschüsse, zehn Verhhaftungen in der Westbank, ein angeschossenener Steinewerfer, ein Molotowcoctail auf ein israelisches Auto und ein Scharmützel im Gazastreifen. Alles ohne Verluste.
Police removed late Sunday 60 right-wing activists who tried to erect a new outpost near the West Bank city of Hebron. One man, who tried to attack police, was detained. Derzeit wird von der ramallahnsichen Regierung wegen der israelischen Pläne in Har Homa neue Wohnungen zu bauen ein Boykott der am Mittwoch beginnenden "Gespräche" [für was auch immer] diskutiert. Hierzu Akiva Eldar, "The Har Homa Test" + Security forces on Monday evacuated three of eight illegal outposts erected in the West Bank during Hanukka, Army Radio reported. The remaining five outposts will be evacuated within the next two days, the radio station quoted a security official as saying.