The new Australian government pledged to double its annual funding of the Palestinian Authority to $39 million.
Bob McMullan, Australia’s parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, made the announcement Tuesday at a donors’ summit in Paris. Australia’s new Labor government had pledged to offer more assistance to the Palestinians.
A total of $7.4 billion was raised from the representatives of the 60 countries at the one-day conference, far exceeding Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ expectations of $5.6 billion.
The biggest donors were the European Union, which pledged $652 million for 2008, and the United States, which pledged $555 million.
“Australia’s pledge sends an important signal that Australia remains committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which will see a viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel,” McMullan told ABC Radio.
The donors’ summit comes one month after the Annapolis peace conference, where Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed to negotiate a final settlement by the end of 2008.