The conference revealed a very strong desire of the Palestinian
people to share in the process of determining the sort of state they
will eventually have. The facilitators of small group meetings held at
the conference emphasized to us that being consulted is not enough.
People want a share of the process, after being denied a voice by
successive occupations since the Ottoman era. It is not easy to
operationalize this concept, but the strength of feeling displayed in
our discussions on this point made it evident that any follow-up would
require a measure of popular participation.
Consequently, we recommended a process for follow-up that would
keep people engaged and at the same time build up the analytical
capacity of the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MOPIC).
The participants at the conference had already indicated that they did
not consider the results of their deliberations to be recommendations at
this stage. They recognized that many of the issues require professional
analysis before objectives and policies can be articulated. They thought
that two more events should be held in order to formulate
recommendations for the legislature that will result from the elections
to be held next year. Ed and I undertook to design the next two events.
Before these events take place, MOPIC will need to produce a
report on the first conference. Mr. Isam Shawwa will, I believe, write
this document. I have prepared an outline of its contents for use as he
sees fit. It is important to assure the participants that their words
were heard and that action is being taken to follow up as they intended.
The next event will attempt to define the macro framework for
planning. This is a set of fairly general principles and objectives that
the government should seek to achieve in the long run. Papers will be
written based upon seven themes we extracted from the results of the
first conference, plus five more that would contribute to the framework.
These are mostly but not all economic issues; they include such topics
as relationships with the Palestinian communities abroad, and the
unification of legal systems. Most of the papers should be produced by
staff members of the MOPIC and their local consultants, but some would
be the responsibility of other ministries, such as Justice. That meeting
could be held as early as January, if work began immediately on the
papers. In the memoranda attached, written for the Director General of
MOPIC, Majdi Khalde, we describe the rationale for the meeting and
provide a one-page description of the issues to be covered in each
The final event should be a meeting at which each ministry
presents its goals and strategies in a sectoral paper. Ideally, that
would take place around the time of the elections, but it now appears
elections will be in January, which is too early for papers to be
prepared. MOPIC will have a coordinating and assisting role in the
preparation of these papers, but they should be prepared by the
Future involvement by Ed and me is unclear, as usual. The
Minister took a great interest in the papers we wrote last time we were
out there, in March, and they suddenly became best sellers. I don't
think he had seen them before this trip. Now he seems convinced that
MOPIC needs the capacity to analyze economic issues before they are
discussed in the Cabinet, but at the moment he has no qualified
economist on which to rely. Dr. Mohammed el-Samhouri, who attended
Glenn's workshop and is now at a course at the IMF, seems best
qualified, but he is squeamish about leaving his university for the
Two other officials, Dr. Ali Shaath and Dr. Abdel Malik al-Jaber,
think they have the Minister's approval to organize a planning unit, but
I don't think either will get very far. We spoke with both and were well
received, but in the final two days we were there, the Ministry was
consumed by a marathon internal meeting over the division of
responsibility among its constituent parts. This left no opportunity for
discussions of the papers we gave them at our initial meeting.
The Minister's visit to Harvard in mid-November should be a good
opportunity to see more clearly the road ahead.