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Economic development is key to creating the conditions for a successful Palestinian state. Speaking to the Palestinian Business and Investment Forum at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on October 14th, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that the Palestinian private sector is the real catalyst for economic growth. The employment and economic opportunities that the private sector offers, she said, "will make a tangible difference in the lives of Palestinians and in their ongoing battle to end extremism among them."
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has taken steps to create an environment in which the private sector is free to flourish. He has erased millions in private debt and public salary arrears. He has instituted reform measures to improve the efficiency of government. As a result, the Palestinian Authority is positioned to invest in the infrastructure necessary to expand private sector growth.
The United States recognizes the efforts of the Palestinian Authority and is committed to ensuring that these reforms can continue. The U.S. has provided almost six-hundred million dollars in total assistance to the Palestinians during 2008. As a sign of our continuing commitment to both the P-A government and the creation of a viable Palestinian state, the U.S. has appropriated one-hundred fifty-million dollars in budget support for the Palestinian Authority in fiscal year 2009.
The U.S. also is committed to supporting ongoing peace negotiations between the parties to reach an agreement under the Annapolis process before the end of the year. Secretary of State Rice promised to leave no stone unturned in her efforts to resolve the sixty-year old conflict so that Palestinians can live in dignity in their own state and Israelis can live in security with a partner that is democratic and accepting of Israel as a neighbor.