RAMALLAH, West Bank, April 6 (Mohammed Assadi/Reuters) - The
International Monetary Fund has given the Palestinian Authority a strong
vote of confidence, saying it is capable of running a national economy
just as it pushes for UN recognition.
The Washington-based body said the Western-backed PA, which governs in
the occupied West Bank, had a solid track record of financial reforms
enabling it to be less dependent on donor aid.
(It) is now able to conduct the sound economic policies expected of a
future well-functioning Palestinian state, said the IMF staff report
released this week.
The latest direct peace talks aimed at ending the decades-old
Israeli-Palestinian conflict broke down almost as soon as they began
last September in a dispute over continued Jewish settlement building in
the West Bank.
Efforts to revive the negotiations have so far failed and the
Palestinians are focusing their efforts on building international
support for recognition of a Palestinian state on all of the West Bank,
Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, lands Israel has occupied since 1967.
Palestinian leaders say they are considering a push for recognition of
statehood at the United Nations General Assembly in September.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad embarked on a two-year plan in
2009 to construct the full institutional framework of a state by
mid-2011, and the IMF endorsement is likely to encourage the PA in their
The report said reforms in public-sector finance management had enabled
the PA to control spending tightly, apply rigorous budget preparation
and establish fiscal transparency and accountability in line with
This, along with a prudent fiscal policy, had contributed to a
reduction in donor aid to $1.2 billion in 2010 from $1.8 billion in
2008, with a view to a further cut to below $1 billion this year, the
The Palestinian economy grew 9.3 percent in 2010. To sustain this
growth, the IMF urged Israel to ease limits on economic activity, mainly
restrictions on trade between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which
is run by the Islamist group Hamas.
Hamas is hostile to Israel and strongly opposes the Palestinian
Authority's peace strategy.
The IMF report also urged Israel to ease the movement of Palestinians at
Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank and to give the Palestinian
private sector access to about 60 percent of West Bank land that is
still occupied and controlled by Israel.
Israel says it has facilitated Palestinian economic growth in recent
years by lifting hundreds of West Bank restrictions.
(Editing by Crispian Balmer and Jonathan Lynn)