HC Deb 18 July 1994 vol 247 cc8-9W
Mr. Worthington

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the assistance being given by Britain and the European Union to support the Palestinian authority in Gaza and Jericho.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

In January 1994 my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary announced our intention to give, over the three years 1994–95 to 1996–97, £70 million in aid for the Palestinians and in support of the peace process. Most of it will be channelled through the programmes of the European Community, but a significant proportion, currently £6 million a year, will go through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The rest will be bilateral technical cooperation.

On 8 July my right hon. Friend announced a further £5 million of bilateral assistance for the new Palestinian administration this year. This is made up of £3 million for immediate running costs and £2 million for increased technical assistance.

Part of these funds will go to the Palestinian police force to help in the maintenance of law and order. Priorities for British assistance are good government—for example, legal infrastructure, elections and the police, finance and private enterprise, health and water.

During the period 1994–98, the EC will provide an assistance package worth 500 mecu or £388 million, half of which will be grant and half loans through the European Investment Bank. Over 50 mecu has been approved this year, including 10 mecu for housing, 10 mecu for education, 10 mecu for police, 10 mecu for the rehabilitation of detainees, 8 mecu for credit institutions, 5 mecu for technical assistance, 1.5 mecu for statistical support and 1.5 mecu to support the elections. The EC is also contributing the UNRWA over 30 mecu or £23.5 million per annum for the period 1993–94. In April EU Foreign Ministers adopted a joint action plan in support of the middle east peace process, focusing on support for the police, elections and election monitoring and an international presence in the occupied territories.

Mr. Worthington

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what administrative impediments there are in the way of the giving of assistance by Britain and the European Union to the Palestinian authority in Gaza and Jericho; and how they are being resolved.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Some key appointments still remain to be made by the new Administration, which itself lacks administrative experience. Assistance with institution-building is a priority for the international community. In particular, the World bank has helped the Palestinians draw up a priority investment programme, and is providing technical assistance and feasibility studies through a special fund to which Britain contributed $2 million. The World bank is also administering a separate fund set up as a channel for bilateral contributions to the running costs of the Palestinian central administration. Discussions are taking place among donors aimed at the rapid establishment of a similar mechanism for funding police running costs.

Both Britain and the EC are providing direct help in the development of administrative capacity and are contributing towards the Palestinians' immediate budgetary needs.

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