Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced his strong support for Palestinian efforts to complete the building of state institutions in two years, and pledged the full assistance of the United Nations towards this goal.
The plans to build up Palestinian institutions were announced last month by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and reportedly include disentangling the Palestinian economy’s dependence on Israel and foreign aid, trimming the size of the government, increasing the use of technology and unifying the legal system.
“I strongly support the Palestinian Authority’s plan to complete the building of the state apparatus for Palestine in two years, and pledge the UN’s full assistance,” Mr. Ban said in a message to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee that was delivered by B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.
“The significance of this goal should not be lost on any of us. Nor can we underestimate the urgency of the moment,” he told the meeting, which was chaired by Norway, and attended by Mr. Fayyad and Tony Blair, Special Envoy of the Middle East Quartet, among others.
“Either we move forward, towards two States living side-by-side in peace, or backwards towards renewed conflict, deeper despair and long-term insecurity and suffering for Israelis and Palestinians alike. The status quo is untenable.”
Mr. Ban said he hoped it will be possible to immediately launch negotiations for an end of occupation and an end of conflict, based on clear commitments to and implementation of the Middle East Roadmap, including a settlement freeze.
In addition, efforts on the political track must be accompanied by work on the ground, including continued engagement by the Palestinian Authority with the challenges ahead, as well as broader action by Israel to ease movement and access restrictions and to enable Palestinian growth.
For donors, this means continued support to the Palestinian Authority, including budget support, and the alignment of programming behind Palestinian national priorities, he added.
Norway’s Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, told a news conference later in the day that while donor assistance has risen, there is a shortfall of $400 million in the Palestinian budget which needs to be addressed urgently.
The Secretary-General also noted that the long-term impact of what is happening currently in Gaza can only undermine efforts to build a Palestinian State and achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
The UN has proposed in concrete terms how to kick-start civilian reconstruction in Gaza, under its auspices, and Mr. Ban appealed once again to Israel to allow the entry of material into the area to make a meaningful start in addressing the massive civilian recovery needs following the conflict there earlier this year.
Today’s gathering comes ahead of a meeting slated for Thursday of the diplomatic Quartet – comprising the UN, European Union, Russia and the United States.