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Australian funding support for Middle East peace agreement



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M E D IA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

ALEXANDER DOWNER

AA98 30 November 1998

EMGARGOED UNTIL MIDNIGHT 30 NOVEMBER

AUSTRALIAN FUNDING SUPPORT FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE AGREEMENT

I am pleased to announce Australia will make a significant new commitment aimed at strengthening peace in the Middle East.

The Australian Government has warmly welcomed the Wye River Memorandum signed on 23 October and applauds the commitment that both Israel and tye Palestinians have demonstrated to building a just, secure, and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. We recognise the tremendous support President Clinton has provided to achieve this outcome. *

The international community has a role to play in supporting the rejuvenated process toward a permanent peace in this troubled region.

At the invitation o f President Clinton, the Australian Government is attending the Conference to support Middle East Peace and Development on 30 November. Australia will be represented by H.E. the Hon Andrew Peacock, A .C ., Australia’s Ambassador to the United States o f America.

Australia will provide $16 million over the next three years for development activities designed to strengthen the peace process. O f this pledge, just over $8 million will be allocated to the work o f the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which remains the primary agency for the delivery o f international assistance in the region to Palestinians. UNRWA provides education, health and employment services to an estimated 3.4 million Palestinian refugees.

Some $4.5 million will be provided to fund the activities o f Australian nonĀ­ government organisations (NGOs) in the fields o f employment generation and health services. This will build on the support provided to six Australian NGOs that have been undertaking humanitarian activities in the region over the last three years.

Nearly $3.5 million will be spent on assisting the agricultural and legal sectors. The agricultural program will transfer Australian skills and technology to help overcome major constraints facing agricultural development in the West Bank and Gaza. The anticipated legal assistance will strengthen legal infrastructure and help protect human

rights.

Media contacts: Innes Willox (Minister’s Office) 02 6277 7500 / 0414 206 890 Deborah Nesbitt (AusAID) 02 6206 4966/ 0417 683 767