Neither elections nor stronger Palestinian security forces will be sufficient to produce a capable and legitimate Palestinian government if other Palestinian Authority institutions are not developed in tandem. The United States and other countries should continue to promote a “sustainable security” program in Palestine—developing a judicial system, strengthening the rule of law, advancing economic prosperity and democratic mechanisms—to create a favorable environment toward a peace resolution. Considerable U.S. investment and efforts to build Palestinian security forces should be matched by robust efforts to strengthen Palestinian Authority ministries in a wider range of sectors.
This may require a far more direct presence in the West Bank than is currently possible.At present, U.S. Agency for International Development officials can only travel even to Ramallah under heavy security, with each visit costing thousands of dollars according to many estimates, and to the great dismay of Palestinian officials. The United States should strongly consider opening a diplomatic presence in Ramallah. This would send an extremely strong signal of U.S. support for an emerging Palestinian state, and would facilitate a much more effective engagement across all sectors of Palestinian institutional development.
In opening such a presence, the United States should make clear that the move is not making a policy statement prejudging the outcome of final status negotiations. International development assistance should be tightly integrated into a coherent strategy aimed at producing a capable, legitimate set of Palestinian institutions which can win public support for and effectively implement a two-state final status agreement.
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