UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - Saudi Arabia on Monday formally called for an urgent ministerial meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss Israeli settlement activities in "the occupied Palestinian territories." Following up on a letter from Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal early this month, Saudi Arabia's UN mission sent a letter to the President of the Security Council in which he requested "an urgent meeting of the Council at the ministerial level to address the issue." Officials from donor nations Monday urged Israel to lift restrictions on the Palestinian territories, saying they were strangling the local economy, leaving Palestinians dependent on aid. "In spite of unprecedented donor contribution and substantial Palestinian reforms ... the Palestinian economy is still in stagnation and remains unsustainable," said Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, whose country chairs the UN's ad hoc committee of Palestinian donors. Donor countries have so far this year pumped a record 1.3 billion dollars into the Palestinian economy, but the Palestinian Authority's budget still has a shortfall of some 320 million dollars. Pledges of international aid to the Palestinian Authority were the focus of the talks on the sidelines of the UN general assembly here Monday. "We are still short of the targets which are necessary to keep expectations for 2008," Gahr Stoere told the meeting. "There has been a broad agreement on the need for mobilising additional budgetary support. "It is clear that while taking Israel's security concerns into account, major reductions without delay of the closure regime are an absolute necessity for reviving the Palestinian economy." He added that Norway was donating another $15m to the Palestinian Authority, bringing its total contribution this year to $60m. Revealing that Israel recently dismantled several of its roadblocks which control access to the Gaza Strip and West Bank, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that was still not enough. "More needs to happen," he told the meeting. "When donors and investors are ready to do more and when the political process is at such a delicate stage, an easing of closure to enable the Palestinian economy to grow is indispensable." During a conference in Paris in December, donors pledged some $7.7b to the Palestinians over three years to finance an ambitious plan by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad from 2008 to 2010. Fayyad told Monday's meeting that those pledges had been largely kept. "Of course the year is not up yet," he said, adding "we have a fourth quarter to consider and we are encouraged by what we heard today about the donors' intention to stay with us and ensure that the gap for the reminder of the year will be filled." But he warned: "By itself the donor assistance is not going to be adequate in order for us ... to make a qualitative difference in the lives of our people." A recent World Bank report said the Palestinians were becoming increasingly dependent on international aid as Israeli restrictions stifle their economy. Without international aid, the numbers of people living in poverty, which currently stands at 51.8pc in the Gaza Strip and 19.1pc in the West Bank, would soar to 79.4pc and 45.7pc, the World Bank said. The Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip imposed after Hamas seized power there in June 2007 had eroded the coastal territory's industrial backbone, it added, citing estimates that 98pc of Gaza's industrial operations are inactive. A top diplomat from the Israeli Foreign Ministry Aharon Abramovitch said his country was seeking to ease the restrictions on the Palestinians but also had to weigh security concerns for its own people. The talks were also attended by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and former British prime minister Tony Blair, now the representative of the Middle East peace Quartet.