Israel and the Palestinian Authority have pledged cooperation to spur economic growth in the Palestinian territories in order to stimulate the peace process.
A joint statement from a conference of Israeli and Palestinian business leaders and government officials says both sides have critical roles to play in achieving sustainable development of the West Bank and Gaza.

In the words of the document:  "An open and thriving Palestinian economy will help lay the foundation for a sustainable peace, and a sustainable peace will require an economically and politically viable, liberated and independent Palestinian state."

The British Treasury chief, Gordon Brown, has told the conference the world must lend a hand to help turn despair to hope for young, jobless Palestinians.

"We have at the moment a unique chance to answer the call of a younger generation, particularly of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, who want jobs, who want education, who want a stake in prosperity.  We can do so by encouraging the economic development of this region so we have long-term prosperity for all," said Mr. Brown.

The World Bank, which co-sponsored the London conference, says more than four in 10 Palestinians live on less than $2.30 a day.

Nearly one in- our Palestinians are without a job.  And the World Bank says the per capita value of goods and services produced within the Palestinian territories has declined by nearly one third since 1999.

The World Bank has pointed out several obstacles to rapid growth in the Palestinian territories.  A report released on the eve of the London conference calls Israeli border closures a "key risk" because they restrict Palestinian workers from coming to Israel, and disrupt the flow of Palestinian exports to the Jewish state.

Another concern of the Bank is a deterioration of law and order inside the Palestinian territories, and it says international donor assistance needs to be coordinated better.