Along with so many of our partners in the international community, the United States is deeply committed to supporting the Palestinian people, particularly Palestinian women, in practical and effective ways. A host of programs are underway to advance Palestinian women’s development, such as the Technical Vocational Education and Training program; the Grassroots Gender Project; the Civic Engagement Program; the Palestinian Health Sector Reform and Development Project (the “Flagship”); and the Infrastructural Needs Program. Each of these is making progress in integrating gender into the public reform and development process, and creating environments to enable Palestinian women to advance and lead.
Our deep interest in advancing the humanitarian condition of the Palestinians, especially that of Palestinian women, is also reflected in our strong support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which provides education, healthcare, and social and relief services to 4.7 million Palestinian refugees across the region, including the West Bank and Gaza. The United States is the largest single-donor to UNRWA. We have also stressed to the Government of Israel the need to reopen border crossings with Gaza, consistent with Israel’s legitimate security requirements, to facilitate greater movement of people and humanitarian and reconstruction materials in order to alleviate the hardships faced by Gaza’s civilians in their daily lives.
The United States continues to pursue a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As Secretary Clinton has said, we believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state, based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements. On March 8, Special Envoy Mitchell made the important announcement that the Israeli and Palestinian leadership have accepted indirect talks, and we hope these will lead to direct talks as soon as possible. As Senator Mitchell noted, we encourage the parties – and all concerned – to refrain from any statements or actions that may inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of these talks.
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