The German Government actively supports the goal of an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign Palestinian state coexisting in peace, security and mutual recognition with all its neighbours, including Israel. Therefore, in recent years the German Government has provided substantial funding to promote the institutional development of a future Palestinian state, through both political and concrete measures.
Against this background, in January 2008, the German Government and the Palestinian Authority launched the successful initiative “Future for Palestine”: concrete projects that can be implemented quickly, primarily in the fields of culture, schools and infrastructure, directly benefit the Palestinian people and also aim to motivate them to support the long and fragile peace process. The Initiative is now in its fifth phase (which runs from March 2015 to February 2017).
In 2014, the German Government provided a total of some 215 million euros (2013: approx. 180 million euros) to support the Palestinian people. Some 143 million euros of these funds went to bilateral projects, the remainder went to the EU. The bilateral projects cover the areas of development cooperation (104 million euros), humanitarian aid (approx. 29 million euros), civilian crisis prevention (approx. 3 million euros) as well as culture and education (approx. 7 million euros). The volume of bilateral development cooperation thus increased by 44 million euros in 2014.
A two-state solution in the Middle East requires effective governmental structures in the Palestinian administration. In August 2009, then Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad introduced a governmental programme that took responsibility for building functioning institutions in accord with the rule of law in the Palestinian territories within two years, thereby fulfilling the institutional requirements for the future establishment of a Palestinian state. In autumn 2011, the World Bank and the IMF concluded that the public institutions in the Palestinian territories compared favourably with other countries in the region and beyond in key governmental areas such as security and the administration of justice, budgeting, economic development and public services. Most recently, in May 2015 the international community reiterated its assessment that the Palestinian institutions were ready for statehood.
German Palestinian Steering Committee
The German-Palestinian Steering Committee was set up in May 2010 to pay tribute to the Palestinian success in buildings state structures and equally to respond to the concrete reform initiatives of the then Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Since then the Steering Committee convened for the second time in March 2012 and most recently in March 2014 in Berlin under the leadership of the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Palestinian Prime Minister.
The Steering Committee aims to pool German activities in the Palestinian territories and to intensify and better interlink German-Palestinian cooperation. Participants in the Steering Committee include both sides’ foreign, interior, economics, development and education ministers or their deputies. The Committee’s third session addressed the development of new forms of cooperation. Alongside more intensive cooperation in the field of further training for young diplomats, both sides agreed to do more to develop rule of law structures in the Palestinian territories.
Support in building up Palestinian security forces
Germany has supported the development of the Palestinian Authority from the start. The particular area of focus is supporting the Palestinian police force, which has the vital task of maintaining the state order in close proximity to citizens. In 2008 Germany hosted an international conference in Berlin, as a result of which the international community earmarked 242 million US dollars for establishing a functioning police force and justice system in the Palestinian territories. In addition to this, since 2010 experts from the Federal Police and the Federal Criminal Police Office have been involved in initial and further training for Palestinian police officers, for example through regular guest programmes at the police college of the Land Brandenburg police force. Furthermore, police are being prepared locally for their day-to-day work in a specially built model police station in Jericho.
In the area of humanitarian aid for Palestinians the German Government is providing assistance both bilaterally and in a European context. In 2014, Germany supported humanitarian aid measures in East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank to the tune of 22.9 million euros. Moreover, Germany provided 6.3 million euros to support projects which benefit Palestinian refugees in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. The Federal Foreign Office’s main partners in providing humanitarian assistance are the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and humanitarian NGOs.
Rebuilding the Gaza Strip
In 2014, Germany provided a total of 61 million euros for humanitarian assistance and reconstruction measures in the Gaza Strip. These funds were first and foremost needed to repair infrastructure and housing. Support was also provided for employment programmes, primary health care and a project on psychosocial support.
In order for the reconstruction efforts to enjoy long-term success, the assistance measures must be flanked by a lasting ceasefire which alters the status quo and ends the cycle of violence. The German Government has repeatedly expressed its willingness to contribute to this.
Cultural relations and education policy
The German Government has made 7.1 million euros available for German-Palestinian educational and cultural exchange. This includes support for the two German schools abroad, German Academic Exchange Service programmes as well as projects in the field of cultural preservation (e.g. restoring the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem) and sport.
Germany’s development cooperation priorities
The Palestinian territories are also an area of focus for German development policy, which is the responsibility of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Since the beginning of the 1980s, within its development cooperation efforts Germany has pledged over 1.1 billion euros to bilateral projects in the Palestinian territories. This is supplemented by Germany’s contributions to EU, UN and World Bank development programmes.
The bilateral development programme concentrates on the areas of water and waste water disposal, sustainable economic development, strengthening administrative structures and promoting good governance. These fields correspond to the priorities of the Palestinian National Development Plan 2014-2016. In concrete terms, sewage treatment plants, environmentally friendly waste disposal facilities, schools and municipal infrastructure are being repaired and newly constructed.
Traditionally, the EU is the biggest donor to the Palestinian territories. Germany contributes some 20 percent of this aid. In 2014 the EU donated around 360 million euros in support for the Palestinian territories.