Palestinians poised to secure pledges of $2 billion in aid

September 30, 1993|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will receive pledges of about $2 billion in aid to bolster their economy from more than three dozen countries -- including a multimillion-dollar pledge from Israel -- at an American-organized sponsors' conference in Washington tomorrow, administration officials said yesterday.

In the aftermath of the recent agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, Washington organized the 38-nation conference to provide tangible evidence that the accord will improve the lives of the Palestinians in the occupied territories and defuse the attraction of groups like Hamas, the Islamic militant organization.

The United States, the European Community, Japan and Scandinavia have already signaled they would pledge more than $1.4 billion in aid over five years, these officials said. The assistance is expected to be in varying proportions of direct grants, loans and other forms of assistance.

Israel's decision to contribute to the Palestinian fund marks one of the historic paradoxes. Once bitter enemies, the two are now pledged to cooperate.

On the other hand, a question mark surrounds the position of Saudi Arabia, once a major supporter of the PLO. The Saudis cut off aid to the PLO when its leader, Yasser Arafat, backed Iraq in the Persian Gulf war.

President Clinton has asked King Fahd of Saudi Arabia to give his support.

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