Palestine-Israel. UN envoy stresses urgent need for reform |
The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) fiscal situation continues to be dire, he said, threatening its stability and jeopardizing service delivery.
Meanwhile, continued violence affecting both Palestinians and Israelis, as well as settlement activities, demolitions and evictions, further reduce the prospects for a negotiated solution between the parties.
End unilateral action
Mr Wennesland warned against “piecemeal approaches and half measures” which will only prolong the underlying issues that are fueling the conflict.
“Unilateral measures and conflict factors must stop. Political and economic reforms must be implemented to ensure the continued ability of the PA to operate effectively, while building donor confidence and support,” he said.
“Above all, the efforts of the parties and the international community to stabilize and improve conditions on the ground must be linked to a political framework.”
Mr. Wennesland, officially the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, welcomed the recent high-level engagement between Israeli and Palestinian officials.
Following a meeting in late December between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Israel announced several measures, including updating the registration of some 9,500 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Israel will also provide 100 million shekels, or about $32 million, as an advance on the tax revenue it collects on behalf of the PA. Additional entry permits for Palestinian officials and businessmen will also be issued.
“I urge both parties to continue and expand this engagement to encompass the underlying political issues,” said Mr. Wennesland.
Regarding Gaza, he said that this month Israel had issued some 10,000 permits for merchants and traders, out of about 12,000 approved documents, the highest number in years.
While welcoming measures to increase the movement of goods and people in and out of the Gaza Strip, he encouraged the parties to engage with the United Nations to further improve access and trade.
Returning to his central point, Mr. Wennesland stressed the need for a coordinated approach to overcome the political, economic and institutional obstacles that stand in the way of a meaningful peace process.
Along with key reforms and action by all parties to defuse tensions, he stressed that “We need to focus on setting the political context that will ensure that the positive engagement we have witnessed in recent months is not wasted.”
Efforts must also continue to encourage all Palestinian factions to reach political consensus and return Gaza and the occupied West Bank to a single legitimate and democratic Palestinian authority, he added.
“Short-term challenges and urgent crises must be addressed,” he said. “Yet at the same time, we must ensure that the solutions put in place advance our ultimate goal: an end to the occupation and the achievement of a two-state solution based on UN resolutions, international law and prior agreements.”