Itongadol.- The UN warned that violence could once more break out between Israel and Hamas unless donor countries fulfilled the monetary pledges they made in Cairo in October to help rebuild Gaza.
UN warns of renewed Gaza violence unless donor countries fulfill their monetary pledges
In that conference $5.4 billion was pledged for the Palestinians, about half of which was earmarked for Gaza.
“Four months after the Cairo Conference, donors have yet to fulfill the vast majority of their pledges,” the UN’s Under Secretary for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council in New York on Wednesday.
“This is frankly unacceptable, and cannot continue if we hope to avoid another escalation in Gaza,” Feltman said.
“We see the circumstances in Gaza as becoming increasingly worrisome as we approach the six-month mark since the end of last summer’s conflict,” he said.
He spoke of other problematic issues with respect to continued calm in Gaza. There are continued restrictions with regard to goods and people at the two Israeli crossing into Gaza and the Rafah passageway from Gaza into Egypt remains closed, he said.
He called on Egypt to re-open Rafah noting that 1,400 patients and 15,000 people were waiting to cross. A permanent cease-fire agreement is needed between Israel and Hamas, he said. The Palestinian factions have yet to reunify, he explained. But the most pressing need in the aftermath of last summer’s conflict between Hamas and Israel is the reconstruction of Gaza, which is moving slowly due to lack of funds, Feltman said.
“The combination of the failure to rectify the persistent governance and security issues and the slow pace of reconstruction has created an increasingly toxic environment,” Feltman said.
“A key component of reversing these negative trends is implementation of the financial commitments made by donors at the Cairo conference. Failure to deliver the necessary support is putting an almost unbearable strain on an already highly fractious environment,” he added.
Thanks to the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, he said, some construction work has moved progressed in Gaza. “Over 47,000 have already procured construction material to date,” he said.
The Palestinian Authority, he said, has also approved 18 of 50 construction projects for homes, schools and water.
Turning to the issue of the PA, Feltman also warned that the Palestinian fiscal crisis was not sustainable. The Israeli government has withheld over $200 million in tax revenues it collects on their behalf to protest the Palestinian decision to join the International Criminal Court, Feltman said. Withholding those funds is a violation of the Paris Protocol of the Oslo Accords, he said. The Palestinian Authority has borrowed funds from private banks to pay civil servant salaries, he said.
According to a January report by the International Monetary Fund Palestinian economic activity contracted in 2014 for the first time since 2006, he said.
The Quartet principles met on February 8 in Munich where they called for the revival of the peace process and the acceleration of reconstruction in Gaza, he said.
Feltman added that he hoped the international community through the Quartet could help the parties return to negotiations. Establishing a framework for that peace must be a priority, he said.
“The Secretary-General is determined that the UN will continue to play an active role in supporting these efforts,” he said.