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EU Announces EUR52 Million Aid Package For Palestinian Development Projects

The European Union has made available EUR52 million for development projects in Palestine to support economic and social development and institution-building measures foreseen by the Palestinian National Development Plan for 2011-2013.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced the funding on Monday, after Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah's visit to Brussels for talks with her.

The funding will support private sector in creating new jobs, support construction of the new Nablus East water treatment plant, finance small capital investment projects in different municipalities and continue to help deliver community services in East Jerusalem, the European Commission said in a press release.

This is the final part of EU assistance to the Palestinian people in 2013 from the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), bringing the total amount contributed from this instrument this year to EUR300 million.

Ashton said "the ultimate objective of the EU's financial assistance remains the establishment of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security." The High Representative added that they discussed the difficult financial situation of the Palestinian Authority and the expectations for the meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) due to take place on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Ashton and Hamdallah also followed up on their discussions held in June during the former's visit to the Middle East. They talked about the deepening bilateral relations between the European Union and Palestine.

Ashton confirmed the EU's support for the Palestinian state-building process and stressed the need for a strong and stable Palestinian government committed to reform and the rule of law. In the talks, she also expressed EU's full support for the ongoing Middle East peace talks.

EU Commissioner for Enlargement & European Neighborhood Policy Štefan Füle said: "We have to look beyond immediate financial help to the Palestinian Authority to provide longer-term sustainable support. We will also continue to support the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem to help ensure their access to services in East Jerusalem."

The new financial assistance package will support the development of the private sector in East Jerusalem, seek to improve living conditions of Palestinian families in the Old City as well as improving quality care and patient safety in East Jerusalem hospitals. These investments complement the EUR13 million of direct financial support provided to East Jerusalem hospitals adopted earlier this year and channeled through a new window of the PEGASE mechanism which is now open to all donors.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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