Bush pledges $350m in aid to PA (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Nathan Guttman and Irit Rosenblum WASHINGTON 02/04/05)
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WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush pledged $350 million in aid to
the Palestinians in his State of the Union speech on Wednesday.
The goal of the Palestinian statehood "is within reach," Bush said.
Bush´s aid pledge - bigger than expected - was meant to demonstrate
U.S. support for Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
"The beginnings of reform and democracy in the Palestinian
territories are showing the power of freedom to break old patterns of
violence and failure," Bush said in the speech.
"The goal of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side
by side in peace is within reach - and America will help them achieve
that goal," he added.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due to arrive in Israel and
the Palestinian Authority on Sunday for talks with Abbas and Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon, after visiting Europe.
She will ask European states to help finance a monthly pension plan
for needy Palestinians and a pension for "war veterans" of
Palestinian organizations that will be dismantled.
During her visit in Israel and the PA, Rice will try to reach an
agreement about building an Israeli-Palestinian-American mechanism to
handle problems that arise during the implementation of the
disengagement plan and the road map, and make sure the sides fulfill
Sharon intends to ask Rice to help modify the U.S. government travel
advisory to American citizens not to go to Israel. The warning,
issued with the intifada´s eruption at the end of 2000, has been
renewed periodically since then.
Tourism Minister Avraham Hirschson, who asked Sharon to broach the
subject with Rice, said the warning severely damages tourism to
Officials said the U.S. money would finance a wide range of projects
in Palestinian areas, from building homes and improving the
infrastructure, to providing social services. The money includes $41
million for "short-term, high-impact projects," $50 million for new
high-tech crossing points along Israel´s separation fence "to help
improve the flow of goods and people," an official said. (© Copyright
2005 Haaretz. 02/04/05)
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