Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80
THURSDAY 1 MARCH 2007
PROFESSOR MANUEL S HASSASSIAN
Can I ask you to say one word about the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative?
Professor Hassassian: The road map which was
initiated in April 2003 has not been very successful because we
have not seen any implementation of that. It was based also on
the basis of incrementalism and confidence building measures.
We have seen from the Oslo agreement that the confidence building
measures did not work out for the simple reason that leaders on
both sides were jockeying for a political accommodation rather
than peace building. The lack of linkages of civil society and
changing the perceptions of people on both sides led to its dismal
failure. We do not want to repeat the same experience in the road
map. The phased approach is not going to be very beneficial. Palestinians
believe today that if they want really to start the peace process
both sides have to start with the basic fact that there are five
permanent status issues. Without realising that, I think we will
go back to square one. The Arab Peace Initiative is a King Abdullah
initiative which was endorsed in the Beirut Arab Summit in 2002.
It is a good frame of reference for a comprehensive and just peace.
The Arabs have offered Israel the right to exist and to be part
of the existing nation states in the Middle East. It offered land
in exchange for peace. It wanted Israel to relinquish the territories
occupied in 1967 for a full and comprehensive peace. That frame
of reference should be part and parcel of the Quartet's road map
in future political processes between the two parties.
Q81 Lord Hamilton of Epsom:
If the Palestinians succeed in having a unified and coherent government,
do you think that Israel has to have regime change before you
can reach sensible conclusions and negotiations with them? Do
you think that the Olmert government is too weak as it stands
at the moment?
Professor Hassassian: The national unity government
will answer a lot of questions that the international community
has been posing. Once and for all, the national unity government
has stopped the in-fighting among the Palestinians. Now we should
have a representative government of all walks of life. That in
itself creates a certain type of security in our part of the world.
There will be a consensus in this government that the negotiations
will be conducted by the PLO and President Mahmoud Abbas will
be handling the negotiations file with Israel. The question of
recognition here is immaterial. However, a weak government on
the Israeli side is not really going to push the peace process
forward because Olmert is being attacked left and right. With
such a weak government, we do not anticipate that there will be
a process of engagement here. I think Israel will go for early
elections. Of course, we cannot predict the outcomes of such elections
but they are not going to be as we anticipate. However, we Palestinians
believe that we have to be prepared for final status talks and
to stop this incremental approach by accepting the fact that we
have started and embarked on a peace process which was launched
back in 1993. We have to continue within that framework because
there is no military solution to this conflict. There is only
one solution and that is political.
Q82 Lord Anderson of Swansea:
Are you suggesting that fundamental to the national unity government
is the acceptance by the Cabinet of that government of a two state
Professor Hassassian: Yes.
Q83 Lord Anderson of Swansea:
May I put one further question relating to frustration at the
lack of progress of incrementalism? There was a suggestion floated
yesterday in an article in The Financial Times that in
contrast to that approach there should have been an attempt at
a regional approach, bringing in Iraq and other concessions around
it. Is that something which attracts you?
Professor Hassassian: Definitely. I believe
that the crux of the problem in the Middle East is the Palestinian/Israeli
conflict. All other regional conflicts are considered to be marginal
when it comes to the hard core problem. We know that Israel is
there to exist. The Arabs have endorsed their existence through
the Arab Summit of 2002. We believe that a two state solution
is the only solution, although the Palestinians have made their
historic compromise in 1988 to accept only 22% of historic Palestine
as our independent, viable state. Regional conflicts sometimes
have marginalised the issue from the centre to the periphery.
I believe that the developments in the Middle East today will
be better if we have seen a certain kind of progress on the Palestinian/Israeli
front. If you look at the issues, they are organically intertwined.
What is happening in Iraq and the position of Iran, using the
Palestinian card today and the Hezbollah card, is creating mounting
pressure and instability in the region.
Q84 Lord Anderson of Swansea:
The article was suggesting that there should be a package which
should include Iraq, Iran and other matters with the US and others
agreeing as a total rather than starting incrementally following
the Middle East Peace Process approach.
Professor Hassassian: This comprehensive approach
will be very complex and difficult. I believe that we have to
look at the issues in perspective, solving the Palestinian/Israeli
issue, at least getting the parties back on track to negotiations
by not neglecting Iraq and Iran, because those are major actors
in the Middle East and they could act as spoilers to the peace
process. The Palestinians and the Israelis have been victimised
by the spoilers to the peace process. I believe that today Iran
plays a major role in being a spoiler and that is why the United
States has to reckon with Iran but not at the expense of stalling
the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Chairman: You referred earlier to the economic
importance of the EU. Lord Chidgey is going to ask the first of
a series of questions about the political role of the EU.
Q85 Lord Chidgey:
In your opening remarks you made a very strong link between the
level of EU donations to Palestine and the importance and stature
of the EU's political role, which was very nice and we thank you
very much. However, as you will know from the questions, we are
concerned about the strength of the stand that the EU takes in
the negotiations and in the final status issues. I would like
to know what your view is on whether the EU has a coherent strategy
on the Middle East Peace Process or is there any fresh thinking?
I would like to caveat that and try to link the two questions
together at the same time. In our other evidence sessions, there
has been quite a lot of doubt spread to us on whether or not the
EU does have a major political role to play, whether it is a junior
partner to other, more powerful nations with greater interests.
It has also been put to us that the EU does not speak with one
voice. Who do you speak to if you want to speak to the EU? It
is the old Kissinger argument. Also, there has been an argument
that we should look at groups of EU nations as well as the EU
as an entity that has its own particularI would not say
"agenda"but perhaps view on the way forward and
it works together as an informal team to try and press matters.
If you could give me some answers to those various sub-issues
within the main issue of whether the EU is just a banker or whether
it really has a role which is important and which can be recognised,
that would be fruitful.
Professor Hassassian: The perceptions of the
Palestinians concerning the EU political role have been considered
to be very minimal. The major thrust that the EU had in supporting
the socio-economic conditions and the infrastructural development
of the future Palestinian state has always been a strategy for
the EU. However, when it comes to the political role, or in putting
pressure on Israel and being a potential partner with the US,
we have not seen much teeth there. That is why we have all the
time been urging our EU partners to become more proactive in the
political arena, not to leave it to the United States alone. As
you know, Israel has always wanted to shun the Europeans because
for us the Europeans as partners are the only ones who could tilt
the balance. There is more leniency and unequivocal support by
the US to Israel. We do not have that kind of leverage by the
Europeans and their political role to tilt that balance. Regardless
of our appreciation of the contributions of the European Union
in terms of humanitarian assistance, economic sustenance, development,
investment, growth, fair trade and partnership which are very
important for a future viable Palestinian economic entity, when
it comes to the political peace process we have not seen much
induced involvement by the Europeans. Every time we have meetings
with Europeans on the bilateral levels, they have been asking
us to put pressure on the US to accept the Europeans as potential
partners in the peace process. We could not really convince the
Americans to have the EU politically, involved to be on equal
footing with the United States. That is why we have been very
frustrated with the positions that we have not seen, for example.
The EU is the largest donor to the Palestinian economy. Also,
the EU is considered to be one of the largest trade partners to
Israel. The Europeans can do a lot in putting pressure on Israel
but that has been circumvented all the time by the pressures put
by the United States on the European Union.
Q86 Lord Chidgey:
Thank you very much for those answers. They have been echoed in
other quarters. The one thing we perhaps have not touched on is
the process by which the EU can bind together in Palestinian eyes
to be a more equal player in the Quartet. This is the issue that
is most important to us in our inquiry: how the EU can function
rather than picking individual states. We recognise that this
is an issue and I wonder whether you can give your observations
on the way forward for the EU to be a more effective player in
the peace process.
Professor Hassassian: Great Britain could play
a very seminal role. The UK government is considered to be among
the leading countries in the EU. In our meetings with his Excellency,
the Prime Minister, we have asked him to be more proactive in
the peace process and to have more teeth in the Quartet. The UN
has been a lame duck in bringing the parties in the conflict together.
The Russians are now starting to be more proactive in their involvement
in the Middle East and in particular in recognising the national
unity government of the Palestinians and trying to put pressure
on the EU to accept this kind of government for future relations.
We need to see the EU change its strategies. It is about time,
with your geopolitical interest in the Middle East and our geographic
proximity and our long, historic tradition that the EU should
be more involved politically. We have been mandated by European
countries all along. We have more affinity to working with you.
There is a trusting relationship of Europeans with the Arab and
the understanding of our religion, Islam, could play a cementing
role, rather than a negative role. From that perspective, I think
there should be more involvement. We cannot impose this on the
Americans as much as the European Union which has to be more concerned
because it has been investing lots of money in this peace process.
Therefore, to cash in on the dividends of this peace process,
the EU has to be more politically involved. The Palestinians and
the Arabs will feel more secure in having an equitable solution
with our partners, the Israelis.
Q87 Lord Hannay of Chiswick:
Do you accept that if the European Union were to play a more proactive
role, which you are seeking, particularly in a set of negotiations
which would be addressing the final status issuesa view
which I would share very stronglythis will inevitably mean
that the European Union in its more proactive role will have to
put pressure on the Palestinians as well as on the Israelis. The
idea that the Europeans are in there to back Palestinians while
the US are in there to back the Israelis is, in my view, a futile
approach to this. It is one that will lead absolutely nowhere.
A more proactive European role will not just be a political concomitant
of the already large part we play in supporting the Palestinian
Authority. It will inevitably mean in some cases very strong representations
to the Palestinian side, saying we believe that it would be helpful
if you would do this, that and the other and not just representation
to the Israelis. Is that fully understood?
Professor Hassassian: Yes. Your statement is
accurate and succinct. The Palestinians believe that the US has
failed us dismally in being a third party because it did not portray
itself as being an honest broker for peace. That is why we are
insisting on the role of the Europeans, believing that at least
there will be some kind of fairness and balance. As you put pressure
on the Palestinians, we believe that you will also put pressure
on the Israelis. This is what we call honest brokerage. We anticipate
that the European role in brokering peace between the Palestinians
and the Israelis would be much more credible than the one we have
witnessed so far. The United States policy as a third party has
been a total failure. Look what happened, from the Oslo agreement
until now, with all the mediation and the full participation of
the Americans. We had the impression all along that the US was
dictating to the Palestinians the conditions for trying to relieve
the Israelis of their commitments. That is not acceptable. We
believe that the Europeans will play a more positive role in being
equitable in putting pressure on both sides while searching for
a common ground.
Q88 Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean:
I think much of this question has been covered but let me put
it in stark terms. Are you saying that you see the United States
as absolutely Israel's backer and not as a power that is bringing
the two sides together? That is what I am drawing from what you
have been saying to us and I put it in stark terms deliberately.
Professor Hassassian: Yes. With all the evidence
that we have and with our experience with the Americans, we have
not seen much pressure being put on the Israelis by the Americans.
All the time we have been dictated to by the Americans to keep
Q89 Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean:
You have told us how you think there needs to be an adjustment
in this respect because you would like to see more EU involvement.
I think the words you used a moment ago were "we insist on
a greater role for the EU". What leverage do any of us have
and how do we need to insist to the Americans that we have a greater
role? The Americans have all the power with the Israelis. We would
like to see a greater political role. You would like to see a
greater political role. How do you think that is achievable?
Professor Hassassian: This is not a question
that I have to answer. You understand your potential. You understand
to what extent the Middle East is so important and viable to the
Europeans. You cannot just see the entire Middle East being highly
politically volatile without doing anything. In the final analysis
the economic dividends are really hurting the Europeans because
of its markets and its bilateral relations with the Arab states.
The imposition should come from the Europeans. We would like to
assist by any means that we can. We have asked time and again
for European involvement. We have promoted the EU on our platforms.
It should play a more proactive role. The role that that the EU
has been playing may not be on a par with that of the United States
but it has been very minimal. We would like to upgrade that involvement.
We have to look at certain mechanisms for how to do that, believing
that the EU has always been subservient to the diktats of the
US when it comes to its own policies and strategic interests in
the Middle East. This is an EU concern, how to deal with the American
hegemony in the Middle East and the total control of the pace
of the peace process.
Q90 Lord Lea of Crondall:
How far has the Mecca agreement provided a basis for the EU engaging
with Hamas? What have been the consequences of boycotting the
Professor Hassassian: The boycott has affected
the Palestinians tremendously. I as an ambassador have not been
paid for the last 11 months. 162,000 workers in the public sector
have not received their salaries and these workers support almost
one million people. Almost one third of our total revenue service
is based on the wage bill. That has a direct impact on the economic
conditions. In certain cases in Gaza and the West Bank, the poverty
level went beyond 80%. Today, unemployment rates in the West Bank
and Gaza are almost 50%. This is the impact of the boycott, let
alone the tax revenues withheld by Israel which totals almost
900 million. Already 100 million has been released as a good gesture
by Prime Minister Olmert but that also has not been received yet
by the Palestinians. Had we received all the promised aid, I do
not think the conflict would have prolonged so far. I do not think
Hamas would have sustained itself. Therefore, in mobilising people
and being supported by the people, it was not Hamas's fault being
democratically elected but it is the international community that
from day one ostracised and alienated it. The Mecca agreement
is first and foremost seen from our perspective, the Palestinians,
as stopping the in-fighting and getting the disarrayed Palestinian
house in order. This will continue to be our utmost priority.
Forming a national unity government based on pluralism, inclusion
and dialogue is of utmost importance in sustaining our readiness
to reinvigorate the peace process with the other side. It is the
other side, Israel, that is not giving us the chance to form such
a government. Israel wanted the Palestinians to be embroiled in
t his internecine warfare because that would bolster its position
in maintaining the status quo and in saying, "We do not have
a partner on the other side."
Q91 Lord Lea of Crondall:
Can I link that to the new role of Saudi Arabia as a facilitator
and also the new role of the EU which is what the question is
supposed to be about. You might like to say something about the
former but on the latterit goes back to our earlier discussion
and Baroness Symons's questionhow can the EU do something
that it is not somehow doing at the moment? Would it be that the
analogy is as follows: the United States can act both unilaterally
and as part of the Quartet. The United States attitude to the
EU is where is the problem? We are all part of the Quartet. The
United States can act unilaterally or independently, whichever
way you like, as well as part of the Quartet. Can the EU do something
in this field? It is an ambiguous expression because one minute
we are talking about the EU; the next minute we are talking about
Tony Blair, President Chirac or somebody, but can you unwrap that
enigma a little more?
Professor Hassassian: The Mecca agreement provides
an historical opportunity from my perspective for the EU to engage
with Hamas in a national context, which is a national unity government.
It might enable it also not to solely deal with Hamas, engaging
and dealing with the national unity government will not only help
the prospects of peace but will enable the EU also to engage with
political Islam in a favourable and relatively moderate context.
You are not dealing with a Hamas government; you are dealing with
a national unity government in which Hamas will be represented.
15 ministers will not be Hamas ministers. Therefore, the majority
is non-Hamas. This is an excuse for the European Union to deal
with a government and not to be under the pressure of the Israelis
or the United States not to deal with such a government. Such
a government is going to bring Hamas even further towards the
PLO agreements in accepting prior agreements with Israel. Now
they have to respect prior agreements. We want them to honour
them and to deal through them. That will take some time. My President
is concerting a lot of effort in bringing Hamas on board. We have
to give credit that Hamas has been moving forward, maybe not enough,
but it is moving forward and I think this is a great opportunity
now for the European Union to deal with a national unity government
and not to deal with Hamas per se.
Q92 Lord Anderson of Swansea:
Some commentators argue that one of the key motives of the Saudi
Government was their concern that Hamas was coming increasingly
under the influence of the Iranians and that this should be seen
in the context of Sunni concern generally about true governance.
Can you comment on that?
Professor Hassassian: We have to admit that
the Saudis have very good relations with the United States. They
have been a strategic ally next to Israel for the Americans. It
is the only government that could really put some pressure on
President Bush who might listen to the Saudis. The Saudis have
been very generous also to the Palestinians in terms of aid. The
Saudis are now worried with the nuclear development in Iran which
they believe threatens their position in the Middle East. With
the Sunni/Shi'ite uprising in Iraq, the Sunnis now are on the
receiving end of the hegemonic attitude of the Shi'ites, which
in turn is creating the unrest and instability in the Middle East
starting with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon all the way to Iraq
and Iran. It is important that the Saudis will play a major role
now. That is why they hosted Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas
to clinch an agreement. That agreement is followed by monetary
rewards, as you know. That is why we believe that the Saudis have
high stakes in the Middle East and cannot afford Hamas playing
in the hands of the Iranians. They are trying their utmost also
not to let the Iranians play the Hezbollah card in southern Lebanon.
We see this arc of moderation between the Saudis, the Egyptians,
the Jordanians, and President Mahmoud Abbas fitting very well
with the interests of the United States in creating a stable Middle
East by providing carrots rather than sticks. This has been a
prelude for the Mecca agreement. If the Saudis are accepting Hamas
and they are trying to protect Hamas from slipping into the hands
of the Iranians in using them as a trump card in the Middle East,
the Americans eventually I believe will be responsive. We have
seen many governments within the European Union portraying positive
indications towards the acceptance of this national unity government.
Q93 Lord Hannay of Chiswick:
What is holding up the formulation of a national unity government
now? We are two weeks or more from the Mecca agreement and there
has still not been a government formed. What are the policy issues
which are delaying that? Should we expect, when a national unity
government is actually announced and takes office, any further
statement elaborating on or adding to the Mecca agreement; or
is the Mecca agreement the final word?
Professor Hassassian: Since day one when the
Mecca agreement was first signed by both parties, Fatah and Hamas,
the deliberations on trying to choose ministers have started already.
In our basic law the president gives three weeks after the letter
of designation given to the Prime Minister for the formation of
a government. However, there will be an extension of two weeks
as an extra period. The deliberations between all parties have
been going on in forming this unity government. There is a problem
with the appointment of the Interior Minister. Both sides would
like to have an independent minister who will control the Ministry
of the Interior. The executive force was created by Hamas when
it assumed control of the streets. In order to contain that within
the security apparatus, it has to be part and parcel of the overall
security set up which, in the final analysis, the president is
in total control of. There is a major problem there in the appointment
of an independent who will be head of the Ministry of the Interior.
They are still looking to solve that. There are other minor problems,
the question of the recognition of Israel and the political platform
for such a government. The political agenda of such a government
would play a very important role, whether to be accepted by the
international community or not. Everybody is waiting not for the
formation of the national unity government, but what would be
its political platform? The assessment whether to recognise this
unity government or not will be another chapter that we have yet
to read closely.
Lord Hamilton of Epsom: We have touched
on Iran already. We want to know what role Iran can have in the
peace process. Does the U-turn by President Bush, allowing the
Iraqi Government to talk to Iran and Syria under the Baker Hamilton
recommendations, have any impact, do you think, when it comes
to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict? Do you see it spilling over?
Is there any role for the EU to play in terms of influence on
Q94 Lord Hannay of Chiswick:
Do you think that the enhanced or proactive EU role in the Middle
East Peace Process should include pressing the United States to
have a dialogue with Iran that covers all matters at issue between
the United States and Iran which would obviously encompass the
Middle East Peace Process as well as the nuclear issue, encouragement
of terrorism and other matters? Do you think that that is likely
to be a role which the Europeans should be playing or should they
be taking a rather neutral role in this matter?
Professor Hassassian: I think the EU should
play a more proactive role in trying to influence the United States
to be engaged in a dialogue with Iran. We know today that Iran
is a major power regionally in the Middle East and it controls
to a certain degree now three files: the Iraqi file, the Hezbollah
file in southern Lebanon and the Hamas file. These are the three
most important hotbed issues in the Middle East. If the Iranians
were left to be spoilers, to use these three areas, it would be
a top priority for the United States to deal with Iran whether
they like it or not. The question of the nuclear file is something
the Arabs do not like to see because it is considered to be another
threat for the Arabs especially in the Gulf area. This should
not exonerate Israel from the responsibility of dismantling its
nuclear weapons. If we want to free the Middle East from weapons
of mass destruction, you cannot pursue it with double standards.
This is what the United States is doing. They are not allowing
Iran to develop its nuclear capability and yet they have been
supporting Israel in having their nuclear reactors in Damona.
The Europeans should play a more proactive role in this area too.
The US should listen to the Europeans as a potential partner in
the Middle East to engage in a dialogue with the Iranians. In
the final analysis, if the Iranians are kept as spoilers to the
peace process, we are going to witness major wars in the Middle
East. This regional instability is not in the interests of the
United States nor of the Europeans.
Q95 Lord Hamilton of Epsom:
Where do you see the Iraqi talks going in Syria and Iran? Obviously
the Americans are behind those. They may not be at the table but
I suspect they will even be that. That process is starting, is
Professor Hassassian: There has recently been
a rapprochement between Syria and Iraq and there is a good relation
between the Syrians and the Iranians. The three of them could
really play a major role in creating stability in the Middle East.
The impact of the Syrians on the Iraqis and the formation of such
a government still needs credibility and accountability. It is
not yet credible and accountable by the people of Iraq. They think
these are puppet regimes being imposed on them by the Americans.
The major issue in Iraq is the withdrawal of the US troops. Once
there is a withdrawal, I think the Iraqis can manage their internal
affairs. Given the fact that Iraq today is vulnerable to all kinds
of conflicts that are being swept into it, whether the Iranian
interest, the Syrian interest, in using Iraq, by using the Iraqi
question they think they are trying to put pressure on the Americans
in order to gain more concessions on their part. It is enough
to give sticks. It is about time that the US should give carrots.
Syria could be pacified if the Hariri file is closed. I think
the Syrians could impact and deliver Hamas. The Syrians started
by hosting Mashaal and President Abbas. The Syrians also would
play a limited role in Iraq in the stabilisation process. Syria
also would try to alienate itself or withdraw from this closer
alliance with Iran if the Saudis are willing to compensate Syria
financially. If there is a political will on the side of the US
to re-engage the Syrians in a peace process, with the Israelis
over the Golan Heights, this is the time when they have to cash
in on the dividends of that process. If they do not do that, what
we will see is an exacerbation of violence which would be detrimental
to the interests of all powers.
Q96 Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean:
This is really examining that point about Syria and the other
Arab neighbours. You said something very interesting a while ago.
You said Egypt, Jordan and Saudi were the arc of moderation, a
very interesting phrase to use. You also talked about the relationship
between Iraq, Iran and Syria being the catalyst to forming a more
peaceful alliance in the future. In all of that do you see Syria
moving away from its relationship with Iran towards a more traditional
role in its relationship with the rest of the Arab league?
Professor Hassassian: The Syrians have been
pushed to take such a position because of the insistence of the
United States in alienating Syria and putting pressure on President
Bashar's government and in minimising its role regionally, especially
the role that Syria has played in Lebanon. After the withdrawal
of Syria from Lebanon, still we can witness the continuation of
the political repercussions of the Syrian presence in Lebanon.
As you can see today, the opposition to Syria is mounting more
and more in Lebanon and I think the Americans are playing on that
contradiction and that should stop immediately.
Q97 Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean:
It is not just the US pressure though, is it? The French put pressure
on Syria. You talked about the Harare file being closed but earlier
on another phrase you used was that the UN is a lame duck. Of
course it is the UN that is insisting on the Harare file staying
open. What I am interested in is the Arab league, the Gulf Cooperation
Council, the OIC. Do you see a role for them? What is the relationship
you would like to see between those bodies, which are Arab or
Islamic bodies, and the European Union?
Professor Hassassian: When I referred to the
UN as a lame duck, I did it in the context of not implementing
its resolutions on the ground when it comes to the Palestinian/Israeli
Q98 Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean:
Not in the context of the peace process?
Professor Hassassian: No. The French position
has been personalised. It is Chirac's position concerning the
Hariri file. I have been through many discussions with French
officials. They are not as persistent and adamant as President
Chirac himself, who is personalising this issue. I believe that
the cooperation between the Gulf Council, the Arab League and
the European Union has always been a vacillating procedure. Sometimes
it is a more strenuous relationship, at other times we see it
more easing but it is like an ebb and flow kind of a relationship.
It has never been hostile to the Europeans. Every time that we
have to deliberate on EU policies in the Middle East it has always
been very positive. I still believe Syria can play a positive
role in the Middle East. It should be used by the great powers,
and the Europeans should push the Syrians to be more proactive
in stabilising the region and in engaging in direct peace talks
with Israel. It cannot really continue while the US and other
countries are putting pressure on the Syrians to push Syria further
into being in alliance with Iran, something that Syria is not
forced to do but it has been cornered to do so because of the
current circumstances. Let us not forget that today Iran is helping
Syria financially, and it has been compensating for what previous
Arab governments used to give Syria in terms of economic aid and
Q99 Lord Anderson of Swansea:
We have received evidence that last year, 2006, EU aid to the
Palestinians amounted to over 680 million euros, the largest ever
contribution in a single year, roughly half from Member States
and half from the European Commission. The aim is obviously to
maximise the benefit of that sum to the Palestinian people. To
what extent do you, representing the people of Palestine, feel
that that money is well spent? Can you see ways in which it could
be better spent? Are you happy with the degree of consultation
by the EU and other countries with the representatives of the
Professor Hassassian: The EU's major instrument
in supporting the Middle East Peace Process has been funding the
Palestinian National Authority. I said earlier that by far the
EU has been the largest donor to the Palestinians. You have mentioned
the figure. I have all the figures in front of me. I believe that
to a certain degree we have failed in our fiscal policies however,
we have learned our lesson.