Germany is supporting the Palestinian civil police and the peace process in the Middle East. To this end, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier invited distinguished guests to the Conference in Support of Palestinian Civil Security and the Rule of Law on June 24, in Berlin. Over 45 delegations, led by more than 20 foreign ministers attended.
Apart from the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayyad, and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the other participants in Berlin included representatives from the U.S., Europe, Russia and the Middle East.
Steinmeier opened the conference together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. During the opening remarks, Steinmeier underlined that the Berlin Conference aimed to continue the momentum of the Middle East peace process: "The international community seeks to support the parties in any way it can. We cannot relieve them of the difficult task of seeking a compromise. But we can and do want to help them in their quest for a solution.
"The calendar of Middle East events has been packed over the past 10 months; wheels are in motion. After Jerusalem and Jericho, Annapolis, Paris, London and Bethlehem, we now gather in Berlin. Borne forward by the momentum of the Annapolis Process and their acceptance of the strategic importance of a two-state solution, Palestinians and Israelis are seeking to settle their conflict through intensive talks."
One agreement reached at the meeting included U.S. supervision and support for the National Security Forces, while Europe will work with the Civil Police and the justice sector. The international community will provide $242 million [USD] for the construction of a functioning police department and courts system in the Palestinian territories. Steinmeier announced that for 2008 to 2009, the Federal Foreign Office will make available a total of $24 million for police training and infrastructure, as well as in the justice sector. The commission of the EU will provide $35 million for the next three years, announced Federal Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
"The conference was about the allocation of new contributions for the construction of a civil infrastructure for the Palestinian police," said Jamal Nazzal, spokesperson for the Palestinian General Delegation in Germany. "This amount of money exceeded our expectations by some millions; we think this is very good."
In response to critics who often say that the Palestinians have had a problem with corruption, Nazzal said: "We have less corruption than other third-world countries. And there are laws against corruption."
According to the German Federal Foreign Ministry, the Berlin Conference secured the financing for a consolidated, rapid-impact implementation package aimed at sustainably improving security in the West Bank. For example, the training measures for the approximately 6000-7000 Palestinian Civil Police members will be strengthened, police stations renovated and police officers better equipped. Other plans are to service police cars, better equip laboratories for criminal research, improve forensic squads and ensure sufficient capacity for the penal system.
Nazzal stressed his hope for another, non-financial support for the Palestinian police: "It is more: that Israel gives official approval for the police to move between the cities. If, for example, a police station in Nablus wants to catch a thief in a village beside Nablus, a permit is still necessary. We hope for political pressure on Israel, so that this will be much easier in the future," said Nazzal.