With the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire holding in the Gaza Strip, the United Nations has reached agreement with Israel and Palestinian Authority on a new reconstruction mechanism for the enclave as “an important step” in the right direction to kick start recovery and rehabilitation and give hope to the people there, a senior UN envoy announced today.
That announcement was made today by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, as he briefed the Security Council on the situation in the region.
“UNSCO (the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process) has brokered a trilateral agreement between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the UN to enable work at the scale required in the Strip, involving the private sector in Gaza and giving a lead role to the Palestinian Authority in the reconstruction effort, while providing security assurances through UN monitoring that these materials will not be diverted from their entirely civilian purpose,” he said.
Further, “the UN stands ready to provide increased technical assistance to the Government of National Consensus in Gaza.”
He told reporters at a media encounter after the Security Council meeting that the new temporary reconstruction mechanism “in my view, is an important step, which I hope will give hope to the people in Gaza, and an important step, we hope, towards full lifting of remaining closures in Gaza.”
In his briefing Mr. Serry said that the ceasefire brokered by Egypt has largely held since 26 August but remains “worryingly fragile.”
He described the levels of destruction to infrastructure, hospitals and schools in Gaza as “shocking” and that said the devastation unleashed by this most recent round of conflict has left civilians on both sides feeling, once again, “battered and embittered.”
Mr. Serry urged all concerned parties to “act now to set a wiser and more responsible course” out of the current dangerous impasse by solidifying the calm, addressing urgent humanitarian issues, opening up Gaza for reconstruction and recovery and empowering the Palestinian Government of National Consensus.
He also stressed the need for action on the West Bank: “Maintaining the status quo in the West Bank while addressing Gaza anew would send entirely the wrong signal”, he said. “I am pleased that Israel has confirmed that an additional 5,000 West Bank Palestinians will receive work permits in Israel.”
“Positive Israeli actions on a range of issues – such as empowering and enabling Palestinian planning and construction in Area C, to say nothing of ceasing Israeli settlement activity – would send a powerful message,” he added.
Mr. Serry noted that it would not be easy to revive a political process, but stressed that fresh thinking is urgently needed to break out of current dynamics and preserve the possibility of the two-State solution.