Palestine, America and the world

I have privately proposed to some in the American government, and publicly propose here, that the United States organizes and leads a dramatic international donors' conference to devise a multibillion-dollar economic and humanitarian aid plan for Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan. Planning and execution of this "mini-Marshall plan" should begin immediately and include the United States, Europe, the Persian Gulf oil states and other interested members of the Arab League.

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All of us have witnessed with sadness and horror the staggering and inhumane misery that afflicts the people of Palestine, the overwhelming majority of whom seek a peaceful coexistence with their neighbors and a decent way of life for their families. Most of these people are young people, women and children who are forced to endure lives of poverty, misery and death.

In my recent column titled "John Kerry is right," I made two central points. The first is that the only way to end the continuing carnage between Israel and Palestinians is to establish a two-state solution based on mutual respect and peaceful coexistence. My second point is that the God of many faiths equally loves Muslim children, Jewish children Christian children and all children.

I propose a donor conference that would put together a multinational aid package for Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan. The money for Jordan, a country at peace with her neighbors while enduring great hardship and challenges from the conflict, would be available immediately.

The money for Gaza and the West Bank would involve emergency humanitarian assistance that would be available immediately, plus a much larger and longer-term economic package that would be available upon a sustainable cease-fire that ends the current carnage for all parties to the conflict.

Yes, at some point — hopefully soon — there will be a cease-fire that will last. But while these discussions continue and the violence turns on and off, it is time for an international donors' plan that will genuinely offer a better way of life for the Palestinian people, a powerful inducement for the majority of moderates among Palestinians to take the lead, and the prospect for a better future where the killing ends for all sides.

In this donors' conference as I propose it, the Palestinian people will be represented by President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian National Authority and the aid would ultimately be administered by Abbas and the Palestinian National Authority in both the West Bank and Gaza.

In this donors' conference, the nations of the Arab League would join with the United States and Europe and create an alternate universe of hope that offers a clear and better path for the region. Nations such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and others should join with America and Europe and offer a better way.

The rockets falling on Israel must stop and the tunnels for terrorism must be closed and the blockade of Palestine must end — the sooner, the better. In the meantime, starting today, it is time to plan for a substantial and dramatic program through a multinational donors' conference that offers the prospect of ending the misery and poverty and despair of the Palestinian people, of the young people, the women, the children and all who want to live in peace with hope.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at brentbbi@webtv.net.

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