British Prime Minister Gordon Brown ended a visit to Bethlehem where he, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad headed a Palestinian-British Business meeting attended by a number of Palestinian and British businessmen.
The meeting yielded in the UK pledging 500 million USD for three years, 2008 – 2011.
Abbas described the aid as generous while other Palestinian businessmen thought that enhancing economy is the way to peace in the region.
Mounib Al-Masri a prominent Palestinian businessman and owner of the Palestinian telecommunication and cell phones companies said "through business, I think we can make the peace process nicer and easier to do."
Brown arrived in Bethlehem on Sunday morning, where he and Abbas held a press conference at the presidential palace in the city. Gordon then visited the church of the nativity before proceeding to the Interncontinental hotel for the business meeting.
In his speech, Brown praised the business meeting and announced the Palestinian-British Business Conference in London.
“You are making history. You have agreed to have a Palestinian-British Business Conference in London,” Brown said.After the meeting, Brown headed to meet with Israeli Prime Minster Ehud Omert.
In a press conference that they held together, Brown said that a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal is near, pointing to an urgent need for justice. Brown criticized Israel for its ongoing settlement expansion, however, Olmert asked him to understand Israel's need to build settlements.
Olmert told Brown, "You criticised our settlement policy, and I tried to explain to you the restraints that we put on ourselves on the one hand, and the need to keep the pace of life going on the other. "While you disagree with us I hope you understand the position of Israel," he added.
Such a statement is seen by local observers as a clear evidence that Israel does not give a value to agreements. Brown also said that the wall is a "graphic evidence of the urgent need for justice for the Palestinian people" and an end to the occupation of Palestinian land.”
He however,said that there should be a viable Palestinian state alongside with Israel. On his part, Olmert said he expects a peace deal to be reached by the end of 2008, something that many doubt. Brown is a member of the executive of the Jewish National Fund, which is dedicated to the support of Israel.