Palestinian conference could help peace, minister says
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter
Steinmeier said Monday he hopes a Palestinian security conference taking place
in Berlin on Tuesday will a send a positive signal to the region, reported dpa.
The aim of the ministerial meeting is to provide support to the Palestinian Authority so that it is in a position to take charge of security for the Palestinian population, he said.
Steinmeier said it was important to show the Palestinians that not only peace but also the long road towards achieving this goal paid dividends.
"Security in the Palestinian territories is also a contribution towards security in Israel," he said in an interview with German national broadcaster ARD.
Foreign ministers from around 20 countries are due to attend the day-long gathering at the foreign ministry, among them US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russia's Sergei Lavrov.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will be among the speakers at the meeting, which is also seeking to raise funds to modernize the 7,000-strong Palestinian police force and legal system.
Organizers said a well-functioning security system and judiciary are an important building block for a two-state solution, generally recognized as the key to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Although not a pledging conference, the meeting is expected to set aside 183.6 million dollars over the next three years for police training, equipment and judicial projects in the West Bank.
The organization Human Rights Watch appealed to delegates to make concrete pledges dependent on an end to excesses by Palestinian security forces.
"Donor nations should insist that during training programmes the authorities in Ramallah create a security force that is transparent, accountable and respects international norms for human rights," it said.
Following the conference, Rice and Lavrov will join international Mideast special envoy Tony Blair, EU foreign policy supremo Javier Solana and a representative of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at a meeting of the Mideast Quartet of mediators.
Steinmeier said there were good reasons to support the positive developments of recent weeks, a reference to the Palestinian-Israeli truce in the Gaza Strip and peace talks between the Jewish state and Syria.
At the same time, there was a need for caution because past efforts towards achieving a Mideast solution had failed to bear fruit, he added.