The senior United Nations envoy in the Middle East visited the Gaza Strip today for the first time since the signing of the Beach Camp Agreement and the formation of a Palestinian government of national consensus, and pledged the Organization's ongoing support as the nascent process moves forward.
The formation of a unity government was announced on 2 June by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and follows the late April reconciliation deal agreed in Gaza City's Beach Camp between long-time rival Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas.
While in Gaza, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, held a joint meeting at the Ministry of Public Works and Housing with a host of newly appointed officials: Minister of Women's Affairs, Haifa Al-Agha; Minister of Labor, Mamoun Abu Shahla; Minister of Public Works and Housing, Mufeed Al-Hasayneh; and Minister of Justice, Salim al-Saqqa.
"I congratulated the Ministers on their appointment and discussed with them the many practical challenges ahead,” said Mr. Serry in a press release issued by his Office, which added that he assured the officials of the full support of the UN, which is ready to increase its considerable programme of works in Gaza, including in the priority areas of water and energy.
“Gazans must, as soon as possible, feel the dividends of unity. Open crossings both for goods and people, access to construction material, re-establishing trade links between the West Bank and Gaza and exports are urgently needed to kickstart the economy and create job opportunities,” he said, highlighting in that regard the critical importance for calm to advance this agenda.
Mr. Serry also expressed hope that the obstacles on the Ministers' travel would soon be removed so that the new Government could carry out its duties unimpeded both in Gaza and in the West Bank.
"We count on a constructive approach by all stakeholders, including Israel, and urge all to refrain from unhelpful actions," he said.
The UN has long underscored the need for progress towards Palestinian unity in line with existing resolutions, within the framework of the Palestinian Authority and the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The formation of the Government of national consensus is a first step and opportunity to address the serious political, security, humanitarian and economic challenges ahead, says the press release.