International donor nations have pledged nearly five billion euros for the Palestinian Authority, after Washington said it was the last chance to save what remains of its shattered economy.
The one-day conference in Paris hoped to improve every day life for the Palestinians, and give a shot in the arm to hopes for Middle East peace.
But President Sarkozy demanded an immediate end to Israeli settlement building. “An immediate and complete freezing of settlements is a priority,” he said. “How else can there be a viable Palestinian economy?”
Israel’s foreign minister Tzippi Livni was vague. “Despite the difficulties,” she said, “we are ready, and are committed to meet our road map obligations, including in relation to settlement activities.”
There appears to be a growing impatience for a breakthrough in this seemingly intractible problem. Germany’s foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the Palestinians need to see progress soon. “If the Palestinians are going to believe that their lives are worth anything, they need something now, not in one or two years,” he said. “They need to see an improvement in their lives now. That is why this conference is important.”
Washington continues to court President Abbas, but Hamas soured the mood. They welcomed the promised aid, but refused to be persuaded to change their views of Abbas, his Fatah party or Israel.