Sweden pledges $209m to Palestinians

Sweden will increase its aid to the Palestinians this year and in 2008 to more than $200 million dollars, the government said on Monday as a large donors' conference opened in Paris.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said the Scandinavian country would increase its planned aid to the Palestinian people over the next two years by 90 million kronor ($13.7 million) to 1.37 billion ($209 million).

“Sweden is currently one of the single largest donors to the Palestinian people and our ambition is to continue as such in the future as well,” Bildt said in a statement from the conference.

Ninety international delegations gathered in the French capital for the one-day conference to agree on an aid package to stabilize the Palestinian economy and shore up the peace process with Israel — jumpstarted at a US-sponsored meeting in Annapolis last month.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas at the conference urged the international community to step up support to the Palestinians or risk a “catastrophe”, as he appealed for $5.6 billion in aid.