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U.S. Proposes Global Coalition to Help Fund Israel-PLO Deal

By Saul Friedman
Newsday

WASHINGTON

Secretary of State Warren Christopher announced Monday that the United States will convene an international conference here, probably early next month, to raise at least $3 billion for the territories to be taken over by Palestinians as part of their self-government accord with Israel.

To start things off, Christopher told an audience at Columbia University in New York, the United States expects to contribute $250 million over the next two years -- $150 million in direct assistance and the rest in loans and loan guarantees.

Christopher, speaking at a forum sponsored by the university's School of International and Public Affairs and by the Council on Foreign Relations, said: "Our leadership is essential if this historic agreement is to realize its full potential." Calling the conference, he said, demonstrates "our intention to lead a wide-ranging effort not simply to give peace a chance, but to ensure that it will not fail."

Recalling that the United States had organized an international coalition to turn back the August 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Christopher said, "We will now organize a new coalition ... to breathe life into the Israeli-Palestinian declaration," which was signed at the White House Sept. 13.

Christopher said that he, Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen and their counterparts in Russia -- co-sponsors of the Middle East peace process -- are sending invitations to the foreign and finance ministers of Europe, Japan, Canada, Scandinavia, Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states.

A senior administration official said many of the invitees are scheduled to be in the United States during the next two weeks or so to attend meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, and the conference could take place sometime within that period.

Christopher said the purpose "will be to mobilize resources needed to make the agreement work. The international community must move immediately to see that the agreement produces tangible improvements in the security and daily lives of Palestinians and Israelis."

The World Bank estimated that at least $3 billion, or $300 million a year over the next 10 years, will be needed to repair and rebuild roads, public transportation, the water supply, housing and other public facilities that could provide the basis for private investment and economic growth.

The Israelis and Palestinians are to create joint commissions to help with the transition and the economic development of the territories. Of the $250 million contribution Christopher said would come from the United States, $150 million would go toward help and expertise to enable the Palestinians to develop political and banking structures, agriculture, industry and other economic projects.