World Bank: Palestinians ready for state if reform kept up; Israel should ease restrictions

JERUSALEM (AP) — The World Bank is cautiously praising the Western-backed Palestinian Authority's government reforms.

The organization says in a report Friday that if Palestinians maintain financial reforms, institution building and the delivery of public services, they will be ready to handle statehood "at any point in the near future."

It says Palestinian spending remained within budget and tax collection rates were nearly 15 percent above projection. Growth is estimated at 8 percent this year.

But the World Bank notes that Palestinians are dependent on donor aid. It says Israel must loosen restrictions on movement, access to land and markets for growth to be sustainable.

U.S.-sponsored peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians resumed earlier this month.