PALESTINIAN PRIME Minister Salam Fayyad delivered a speech entitled "Investing in Peace for Palestine" to an audience of more than 400 diplomats, congressional staff, journalists and other guests invited by the American Task Force on Palestine to hear him speak at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on Feb. 11. "It is no longer enough to speak of wanting a state of our own," Fayyad said. "It is important to lay the foundations for the kind of state we want, and to pursue our vision of a Palestinian state despite the occupation."
Fayyad discussed progress on Palestinian commitments to good governance, security, and economic and political reform despite continued Israeli occupation.
"My government's platform is amongst the most progressive in the region," he said. "The state we seek is one that must be open and democratic, based on the rule of law, respect for human rights, equality, cultural sensitivity and religious tolerance. We intend to build strong institutions that can meet the needs of our people today and exceed the expectations of tomorrow. In short, we shall build a state that all Palestinians can be proud of-and my government will lead by example."
Fayyad has worked hard, he said, to put the Palestinians' house in order and reform and upgrade the public finance system, including creating a single treasury account for PNA revenues and expenditures. According to the former World Bank official, his government now holds the highest international standards of integrity, transparency and accountability.
As a result of these efforts, trust is gradually being re-established, Fayyad said. Congress has already appropriated $218 million of the $555 million pledged by the United States last December, following the Annapolis conference. "We expect that a substantial portion of that will shortly be deposited directly into the single treasury account. This is a major vote of confidence, and one that is likely to encourage other donors to follow suit," Fayyad said. Over $7 billion in international assistance has been pledged to the PNA over the next three years.
Fayyad said his government also has begun to reform the civil service, reducing public sector employment but also expanding the scope of the social safety net to include tens of thousands of new beneficiaries. "We have also adopted modern legislation in the fields of procurement, income tax and pensions, and have passed important legislation to combat money laundering. …