Work is underway to draft a Palestinian economic rehabilitation programme on an initiative of the four international mediators--the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the USA. Japan, Norway, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have vouched active contribution, announced Igor Ivanov, Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, as he was addressing a business lunch on the Rossiiskaya Gazeta editorial premises.
To monopolise Mideastern problem settlement is the last thing the mediators intend to do. On the contrary, they are eager to join hands with Arab and other countries for the cause, he reassured.
Three interconnected issues are in need of simultaneous solution. First, the Middle East needs efficient security arrangements to isolate extremist groups and guarantee free expression of the Parties' will. Mr. Ivanov pointed in the context dynamic Russian promotion of Israeli and Palestinian secret service contacts resumed. The four mediators are actively helping the Palestinian Authority to reorganise its security services, and set up an unified security network accountable to respective government bodies.
Second, there are humanitarian and economic problems to tackle--"the more jobs are offered the fewer men will snatch at guns and bombs." Meanwhile, Palestine is in an economic and political deadend, the latter concerning prospects for its independent statehood. Practical initiatives to revive the Palestinian economic infrastructure will be offered toward the end of August.
Last but not least comes political settlement--the most baffling issue of all, which involves mutually clashing stances. Thus, Palestine certainly needs democratic elections. The Palestinian Authority top, Israel and the world community are at one on that point. More than that, the Authority is willing to arrange elections early next year, as it announced.
However, Palestine cannot go to the polls while occupied--a factor which rules out a democratic election. It is not yet clear what to do about the mutually exclusive circumstances, said Mr. Ivanov.
The Mideastern conflict rules out settlement through violence, the minister stressed as he had repeatedly done before. "The matter offers only one solution--two sovereign countries, Israel and Palestine, existing side-by-side within safe and internationally recognised borders," said the minister.
As he went over to Yasser Arafat's future, Igor Ivanov referred to an election due at next year's start. "We shall contact Arafat if he wins the race, and any other man if he comes on top," remarked Igor Ivanov.
Now is no time to sit on the fence in expectation of the poll. "We must talk to those who actually represent the ruling bodies," he warned.