Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Palestinians Build Support for Statehood at Brussels Meeting

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Palestinians Build Support for Statehood at Brussels Meeting

Article excerpt

The Palestinian Authority has gained a crucial boost from the IMF and World Bank ahead of a possible UN vote on statehood in September, as Arab unrest adds urgency to their cause.

Palestinians accelerated their drive toward statehood recognition at an international meeting in Brussels Wednesday, but it comes amid worry that Middle East unrest may further complicate prospects for peace by altering the regional landscape.

With peace talks with Israel already mothballed, Palestinians are pursuing a United Nations vote on statehood in September - a goal that seems more likely after foreign donors heard upbeat endorsements of the Palestinian Authority's (PA) ability to govern a sovereign state.

But others say the rising tide of Arab unrest could work against both the PA and Israel. For the PA in the West Bank, demonstrations in the region could spur protests against the lack of political progress, such as the five-year absence of elections or the failure of peace negotiations. It is missing an important ally due to instability in Egypt, which had significant sway over Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

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Israel, too, lost a strategic partner with the fall of Hosni Mubarak, who was considered a key part of the Middle East peace- making architecture.

Israeli cabinet minister Dan Meridor criticized the Palestinian rush for international recognition but he also urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to come up with an initiative to restart peace talks.

"Time is not playing positively for us or them," he said, noting the regional push for domestic reform exposes the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah to demands by Hamas for institutional reform that could give the Islamic militants' new power bases. "We need to do something."

In Brussels Wednesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told donor nations, which have contributed billions to PA, that "the building blocks of a modern state . …

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