- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 2, 2005

LONDON — More than two dozen world leaders yesterday pledged to support Palestinian leaders in creating and reforming the institutions that will serve as the foundation of a future state.

The Palestinians, in turn, promised to take specific administrative, security and economic measures that would make those institutions effective and accountable.

“We are going forward to put our house in order and to address our commitments,” Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told the participants at a conference in London hosted by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The United States, the European Union and the World Bank agreed to lead an international effort to coordinate what the participants described as “institutional renewal” in the Palestinian territories.

The leaders and senior officials — including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — praised Mr. Abbas’ leadership and welcomed his commitment to ending all Palestinian violence against Israelis.

“Further work to build a more effective security apparatus, better governance and the strengthening of the Palestinian economy with adequate and effectively targeted international support should improve the capacity of the Palestinian Authority to deliver real benefits to the Palestinian people,” according to a joint statement issued by the participants.

In the document, the Palestinian Authority pledged to “strengthen” democratic institutions, such as elections, the judiciary, its constitution and civil society.

It committed itself to reforming its security and command structures, and promised to “revive lines of communication with the Israeli security establishment.”

In the economic and social spheres, the Palestinian delegation promised to “combat corruption,” implement pension reforms and “stimulate private sector growth.”

“The Palestinian Authority’s sincere commitment to a viable plan to meet the benchmarks of good government should open the way to donor governments providing renewed support in Palestine,” according to the statement.

The United States, represented at the conference by Miss Rice, has been urging Arab governments to help the Palestinians financially, but several pledges have not been followed by contributions.

Miss Rice told the participants in the London conference that Arab states also must “cut off all funding for terrorism, stop their support for extremist education and establish normal relations with Israel.”

“We in the international community must share our expertise in all areas of democratic governance and offer our full financial assistance,” Miss Rice said.

The participants in the conference said the implementation of the commitments made by the Palestinian Authority “would constitute a major step” in meeting its commitments under the internationally backed road-map peace plan.

“At the same time, participants urged and expect action by Israel in relation to its own road map commitments,” according to the conference statement.

Miss Rice said Israel should “take no actions that prejudice a final settlement, and must help ensure that a new Palestinian state is truly viable.”

The United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia — collectively known as “the Quartet” — issued their own statement urging the Palestinian Authority to take immediate action to capture the perpetrators of Friday’s suicide bombing in Israel.

The Palestinian delegation was puzzled by the demand, with Mr. Abbas saying that the bomber came from the West Bank, where Israel has security control, and that the occupying power should take responsibility for what goes on there.

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