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France and the Palestinian territories

Presentation

Political relations

Bilateral ties remain very close. The first intergovernmental French-Palestinian seminar was held in Paris on 10 September 2015 and chaired by the two Prime Ministers, with a number of ministers from both governments in attendance. This gave a clear idea of what French support for building a Palestinian State looks like. In addition to the signing of a memorandum of understanding on political consultations, the desire to enhance bilateral financial and economic cooperation (extension of French grants, support for SMEs, Palestine Public Finance Institute and the launch of negotiations on an investment protection agreement) was reaffirmed. The second instalment of our budgetary aid was signed on this occasion. In the area of education, in which the opening of a French lycée in Ramallah in the autumn of 2016 seemed to be a project that was emblematic of this cooperation, the negotiations of a cooperation agreement was proposed by the Palestinian party. Local governance (exchange of civil servants, inter-communality) and water, the first sector of concentration of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) were confirmed as priority areas.

French President Hollande made a State visit to Israel and an official visit to the Palestinian Territories from 17 to 19 November 2013. He was accompanied by an important delegation made up of six ministers, a number of parliament members, forty business leaders (Alstom, Vinci, SNCF, etc.) and prominent members of civil society.

This visit was the opportunity to mark France’s support for peace negotiations and to confirm France’s long-term commitment to the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian State.

Most recent bilateral meetings

President Hollande met with Mahmoud Abbas at the Elysée Palace on 21 July 2016. He met previously with the Palestinian President on 6 August 2015 in Ismailia then on 22 September 2015 at the Elysée Palace as well as on 30 November 2015 on the sidelines of COP21 in Le Bourget.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development met with Mahmoud Abbas on 30 July 2016 in Paris and on 15 May 2016 in Ramallah during a visit in the Palestinian Territories.

He met with his Palestinian counterpart, Riyad al-Malki, in Paris on 18 August 2015, on 5 January 2016 and on 29 February 2016 in Geneva.

President Abbas visited Paris on 11 January 2015 to participate in a march alongside President Hollande and some 50 Heads of State and Government after the terrorist attacks on 7 and 9 January 2015.

Cooperation

France is one of the main contributors of aid to the Palestinian Territories. It contributed nearly €40 million in 2015 (€394 million over the period 2008-2014), which was distributed as follows:

  • Direct budget support of €16 million (€150 million over the period 2008-2014, the Palestinian Authority being the number one recipient of French budget support in the world) which actively contributes to building institutions of the future Palestinian State and paying civil servants, particularly in the sectors of education and health in the West Bank and Gaza;
  • Cooperation conducted by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) of €11 million (€137 million over the period 2008-2014) including €6 million allocated to the Municipal Development Project aiming to organize the financing of investments for Palestinian local authorities; €5 million allocated to the Area C Local Development Project with the objective of supporting vulnerable populations so that they can work autonomously to improve their living conditions;
  • Humanitarian aid and for refugees (via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East - UNRWA) of €6.4 million (more than €60 million over the period 2008-2014 including €3 million in 2014 for emergency aid to deal with the Gaza crisis);
  • Action by the cooperation and cultural action section of the Consulate-General of France in Jerusalem, totalling €2.5 million over four areas: culture and media; teaching French; university and institutional cooperation; social cooperation.

Decentralized cooperation is rapidly gaining ground: some one hundred French local authorities are involved in operations totalling an estimated €3 million annually.

Our cooperation is based on geographic priorities: Area C, East Jerusalem, Gaza. The AFD, like the cooperation and cultural action section, conduct more and more of their projects in these three regions.

Lastly, France and the Palestinian Authority place special focus on developing their economic relations. The industrial zone (IZ) project in Bethlehem is emblematic of the desire of French and Palestinian authorities to support the private sector. It is the object of an agreement signed in 2008 by the President of the French Republic and President Abbas to promote the economic development and the creation of jobs in the Palestinian Territories by supporting the Action Plan established during the 2007 Palestinian Donors Conference n Paris.

It is the only IZ project in the Palestinian Territories making real progress. It was inaugurated by the Minister of the Economy on 7 September 2015 in the presence of the Palestinian Prime Minister.

There is likewise a French grant agreement between France and the Palestinian Authority financed by the Ministry of Finance (€10 million, nearly €7 million of which was used in early 2015) to help Palestinian SMEs purchase French industrial equipment. In addition, the Palestine Public Finance Institute, financed by France, was inaugurated by the Minister of Finances in November 2013. The Institute’s objective is to support the implementation of reforms and to align the quality of Palestinian economic and financial services with international standards.

Updated: 23 December 2016

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