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Donors Expected to Give $1 Million to Palestinian Authority

International donors meeting in London say they expect the Palestinian Authority to receive more than $1 million in financial support this year to address the humanitarian and economic crisis in the Palestinian territories. The donors want political reform in the Palestinian Authority.

Donors say the London conference shows the international community is committed to seeing serious peacemaking efforts revive between Israelis and Palestinians, despite the threat of war in Iraq taking center stage.

They expressed concern over the deepening humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories, where waterborne diseases are spreading and about two million Palestinians require food assistance.

But UN spokesman Michael Keating warned that the humanitarian crisis would not be stopped with aid, but only by breaking the cycle of violence.

"The future is looking pretty bleak unless there is a political breakthrough, which can break the cycle," he said. "I think the importance of this meeting was if there is agreement that things can unblock, there is a willingness to work to meet these needs very quickly."

The donors, mainly the European Union, Arab League countries, and the United States acknowledged recent reforms undertaken by the Palestinian Authority, but urged the authority to make more effort to increase security and the rule of law.

They also called for Israel to ease restrictions on the movement of Palestinians and their goods.

Palestinian minister for planning and international cooperation, Nabil Shaath, says the Palestinians have not received guarantees that Israeli armed forces will not destroy properties financed by the donors. He says the Palestinian Authority will continue its reforms, including the appointment of a prime minister.

"We have embarked on the reform with gusto, with enthusiasm, because we feel that reform is in the interest of our people and therefore financial reform, political reform, organizational reform and judicial reform has to continue," he said.

Israel's foreign ministry delegate Yossi Gal says Palestinian reforms must deep-rooted to eliminate violence. "No reform is worth its name unless an end is put to terror and violence. No reform is worth its title unless it serious reform and commitment in areas of security and in areas of putting an end to this terrible incitement against peace, against Israel and everything we represent," he said.

The donors say they have not pledged funds to rebuild Palestinian infrastructure because they are worried that it could be destroyed as long as the violence continues. Instead, money will go to supporting support the salaries of Palestinian public employees, emergency food aid, cash for the poor, and employment-generating programs.