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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Israel - America's Greatest Ally; Dean Part 7

Thanks to my dear friend Dean for submitting this latest in our ongoing series! This is rather long, but extremely important, and I ask that those who can - to forward this to their friends or give it a plug on your blogs and websites, as I can't get it posted at RCP right now. Cyber Pastor

Palestinians Get $7.4 Billion in Aid Pledges in Paris

By Gregory Viscusi

Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Governments and international groups pledged $7.4 billion over the next three years to help Palestinians achieve statehood, a sum that beat the target set for a Paris aid conference.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who said ``the winners are the Palestinian people,'' announced the total today in a press conference. The Palestinian Authority said it needed $5.6 billion in the next three years for its development plan.

Of the amount pledged, $3.4 billion is for 2008, with $1.1 billion earmarked for the Palestinian budget and the rest for projects and humanitarian help.

``We see it as an important act of faith of the international community,'' said Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at the closing press conference. ``This plan is about statehood, and these commitments are a step forward toward that vision. I take it as an endorsement.''

The gathering of 90 states and organizations including the World Bank, Islamic Development Bank and International Monetary Fund followed last month's U.S.-organized peace summit in Annapolis, Maryland. That meeting formally restarted Israeli- Palestinian peace talks after seven years.

Palestinian State

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the goal of the financial help is to create a Palestinian state by the end of 2008. He called on Israel to ease its occupation of Palestinian territories and eventually to relinquish all land it conquered in 1967.

``We have a real negotiating process and now we have a Palestinian plan and the money to pay for it,'' said former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, an envoy representing the United Nations, Russia, the U.S. and European Union. ``None of this was in place six months ago. Now we have to show we are capable of making a difference on the ground.''

Among individual pledges, France offered $300 million over the next three years. The European Union will contribute $650 million in 2008, said Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU foreign affairs commissioner. That amount will include about $475 million in direct budgetary support for the Palestinians. The rest is for UN humanitarian agencies.

U.S. Support

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the U.S. would give $555 million, up from $75 million this year. Of that, $150 million would support the Palestinian budget, she said. The aid hasn't been approved yet by the U.S. Congress.

Sweden will give $106 million, according to Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. He said his goal is to spend $300 million through 2010, though he can't formally pledge money that hasn't been budgeted by parliament. Russia pledged $10 million.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, a co-president of the meeting, said in an interview that the $1.1 billion in aid for the Palestinian Authority's budget next year ``is enough for Fayyad to get his institutions up and running in January.''

Fayyad is likely to talk to donors to shift some money earmarked for projects to the budget, the Norwegian minister said. He said Arab countries in particular preferred to spend on aid projects rather than transfer money to the Authority.

Saudi Arabia, the largest oil producer in the Middle East, pledged $750 million, according to unidentified Palestinians cited by Agence France-Presse. The news agency said conference organizers put the figure at $500 million over three years.

Graft Assurances

Stoere said assurances that the money won't be wasted through corruption nor feed terrorist activities ``are as good as they get.'' Fayyad is a former economist who first made his mark as the Palestinian Authority's finance minister, where he put order into the Authority's accounts to assuage foreign donors.

``With Fayyad in charge and the IMF and others doing their job, I feel confident going to the Norwegian parliament, a nation of 4.5 million people, and asking for $140 million'' over three years, he said.

Sarkozy and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the IMF, were among speakers urging the Israelis to remove roadblocks and other barriers to trade in the West Bank.

``By themselves, these aid offers aren't sufficient,'' Fayyad said in the closing press conference. ``What would really help is the lifting of restrictions.''

Improving Access

Rice said as she left a meeting with Sarkozy that she and Blair had discussed ways to ease restrictions on the Palestinians. ``As projects go forward, it will be necessary to improve movements and access,'' she told reporters.

``It is in Israel's best interest, provided its own security is not threatened, to foster a normal existence in the West Bank,'' Sarkozy said. ``This will enable Palestinians to work, to stop ruminating on their own humiliation.''

Amre Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, said Israel maintains 653 checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni attended the conference and said a peaceful Palestinian state is in Israel's interests too. ``We have no desire to control Palestinian lives,'' Livni said. ``But every effort to improve quality of life means also making every effort to save lives,'' she said, noting that weapons-smuggling and rocket fire into Israel continue.

Relations have soured since last month's meeting in Annapolis as Israel announced plans to build 300 Jewish homes in east Jerusalem, ignoring U.S. requests to stop building settlements on land occupied in 1967, and as Palestinian militants continue to fire homemade Qassam rockets into Israel from Gaza.

While the Palestinian Authority controls only the West Bank, having been pushed out of Gaza by the Islamist Hamas group in June, the Palestinian Authority says it continues to pay the salaries of 77,000 civil servants in Gaza.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his call for fresh elections in Gaza as a way to reunite it with Fatah-controlled West Bank.

How much of this do you think will actually go to help the Arab refugees, aka: Palestinians?

Any bets?

All this while the Fallestinians are raining rockets down on Israel injuring and killing Israeli citizens including the wounding of a small child in Kibbutz Zikim.

Jewish Toddler Wounded By Arab Terror

(IsraelNN.com) Arab terrorists launched a Kassam rocket on civilians in Kibbutz Zikim Sunday, which exploded near a home in the western Negev community, close to the major city of Ashkelon. The explosive injured two-year-old Rom Katzir. His pregnant mother, Sivan, and six others were treated for shock. Four houses were also damaged.

Arabs have fired rockets every day for the past several days, one of which hit a factory in the western Negev on Friday.

The world is lining up against Israel and will suffer the wrath of God for it’s stupidity. When will they ever learn ?!

There is currently a protest in progress against the division of Jerusalem.

Go here for the story.

Your vote and that of your friends is needed to stop this insanity.

We are a third of the way there. 31,189 people have already cast their votes, but we must get at least 100,000 responses or President Bush will think that Christians support dividing Jerusalem and a Palestine State in 2008.

In an article dated October 14, 2007, the following statement was made by former chief rabbi Avraham Shapira: “The Land of Israel belongs to the Nation of Israel and was granted to us an inheritance by the Creator of the World. Neither the prime minister nor anybody else has the right to give away areas, or even a grain of sand, of the Holy Land of Israel.”

It’s absolutely urgent that you vote today. President Bush will be traveling to Jerusalem on January 9th. Please get 10 of your friends to join you as we voice our opinion to the President. Your votes will also be released to the Israel media to let them know that as Christians we do not support President’s Bush’s plan.