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A Partnership For Palestinians

A joint effort by the U.S. government and private businesses has been launched to create jobs for the Palestinian people. The initiative follows the success of the recent Annapolis conference, where Israeli and Palestinian leaders renewed negotiations with the goal of finalizing a peace treaty.

The partnership will seek U.S and international corporate support for projects that promote economic and social development and to help create an atmosphere in which a stronger private sector can emerge. President George W. Bush says the program is designed to help the Palestinians, particularly young people, develop civil society:

"We are going to help the Palestinians develop youth centers, places where young Palestinians can come and learn new technical skills or language skills or have mentoring programs. This is all aimed at saying there is a hopeful future, a future where you do not have to adhere to violence, a future where radicalism is not in your sights, a future where peace is possible."

Youth centers are planned for three major Palestinian cities -- Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron. The centers will offer young Palestinians opportunities to participate in sports and will train coaches and administrators to establish sports leagues. U.S. businesses will help set up high-tech classrooms for young people.

The United States is making an unprecedented effort to increase opportunities for Palestinians, "The peace and security that we seek in the Middle East," says U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, " requires the active engagement of private citizens, civil society groups, and the business community. Focusing this partnership on projects that reach young Palestinians directly, that prepare them for responsibilities of citizenship and leadership can have an enormous, positive impact."

"Palestinians have waited too long for the dignity that will come with their own state and Israelis have waited too long to have a neighbor who can live with them in peace and security," said Secretary of State Rice. "I hope," she said, "that we will find the wisdom and the judgment and the courage to put behind us all the failed efforts of the past and to look only to a successful future."