Experience tells us to be cautious about raising expectations for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But we cannot but welcome that the Parties seem engaged in serious negotiations, after Sharm-el-Sheikh.
To move forward, both parties must honour their obligations under the Road Map.
And they must refrain from acts that prejudge a comprehensive solution.
This Means thart the continued settlement activity must stop, and the separation barrier in the west bank must be dismanteled.
It undermines the prospect of a viable Palestinian state.
And the Agreement on Movement and Access must be implemented.
Negotiations would benefit from tangible improvements on the ground.
Tangible improvements in the lives of Palestinians.
Tangible increase in the security for Israelis.
Without such sources of hope, we run the risk of eroding popular support on both sides.
Expectations are high. If they are not met, we could face political setbacks and continued violence. This must not be allowed to happen.
The situation on the Gaza strip is crucial. We are faced with a deeply worrying economic and social situation.
Most of the population in the Gaza Strip is dependent on food aid from the United Nations. The costs of providing food aid are rising.
The amount of humanitarian goods allowed into the Gaza Strip is still not sufficient.
The prospects for economic activities are staggered by Israeli restrictions.
We call upon Israel to ease these restrictions on people’s movement of goods they need. They should really refrain from administering punitive measures against an entire population.
All the more worrisome are the dramatic changes in the world economy.
Perhaps more than anywhere else, the Palestinian economy is vulnerable to the impact of the economic crisis.
And a further deterioration in the economic and social situation of Palestinians – especially in the Gaza Strip – could further undermine the peace efforts.
That is why the international community must stand by its commitments. This is how we can support an end to the conflict and the creation of a Palestinian state.
Norway contributed USD 137 million to the Palestinian Territory in 2008. Unmoved by the financial crisis, we have recently pledged to maintain our support at the same level in 2009 and 2010.
And we say to other donors: Now is not the time to scale down.
As chair of the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee, Norway has emphasised the connection between external financial support and political results.
At the meeting of the AHLC in New York this September, all parties – Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the donors – confirmed their continued political commitment to building a Palestinian state.
In 2008 the AHLC succeeded in mobilising USD 1.8 billion in support of the Palestinian budget. Palestinian budget support needs for 2009 are estimated at USD 1.3 billion.
A peace process requires unity of purpose from both parties. Without overcoming the internal Palestinian divide, it is difficult to see how a peace treaty can be concluded, and much less implemented among all Palestinians. That is why Egypt’s role is so important when it venture to facilitate Palestinian reconciliation and to broker a calm in the Gaza Strip and Southern Israel.
We commend the positive role of regional actors in contributing towards a peaceful solution of the conflict.
The Arab Peace Initiative holds out a promise.
It will require painful concessions on all sides.
But the prize of peace will be worth every single step on the way.
Thank you, Mr. President