"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
A team from the Office of the Quartet Representative were in Gaza this week for a two-day visit to present the Initiative for the Palestinian Economy (IPE) to representatives from the private and public sectors.
The team, led by acting Head of Mission Dr. Tim Williams and Deputy Head of Mission Sandra Wijnberg, met with dozens of Gaza businesspeople as well as members of the public sector and international community to discuss the potential opportunities for reconstruction and redevelopment in Gaza.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Williams said that even before the summer’s conflict “the people in Gaza were already facing considerable humanitarian and development challenges. They live in one of the most highly-populated areas of the world, amid high rates of unemployment, a shortage of potable water, electricity and economic restrictions.” He explained that the IPE had the support of and was in full coordination with the continuing efforts by the PA, the UN and all those involved in reconstruction efforts for Gaza. He added that the initiative also seeks to go beyond reconstruction, and will support redevelopment of Gaza in order to support a sustainable Palestinian economy and the long term needs of Gaza. The efforts around the reconstruction of Gaza must also be part of a wider strategy to finally relink Gaza and the West Bank.
Representatives from the private sector said that the most urgent issues facing residents were shortages in electricity, fuel, water, cement and construction materials. They highlighted the need for the opening of all the crossings, the operation of the Gaza power plant, and to accelerate the increase of construction materials coming into Gaza, stressing that thousands of homes needed to be rebuilt as fast as possible before the winter.
OQR Advisor for Gaza, Abdelhadi Abu Shahla said in his opening remarks that under the IPE, creating the right atmosphere and conditions to attract new investments is a top priority, which will lead to tangible economic growth. He added that the visit was the latest in a series by the QOR team into Gaza, as Gaza has always been and will remain a top priority for OQR.
The delegation also met with ministers of the Government of National Consensus in Gaza. They heard from Labour Minister Mamoun Abushahla, Women’s Affairs Minister Haifa Al-Agha and Justice Minister Salim Al-Saqqa about the efforts on reconciliation and implementation of effective governance by the government.
The team also visited the Gaza Power Plant to see the repairs to the plant, which is now ready to be operational again as soon as fuel is delivered. In Rafah, they saw an extensive housing project overseen by UNRWA, which is now entering its third and final phase. The team also visited the Karni Industrial Estate and met with the heads of a number of manufacturing businesses that have begun to relocate there since their plants were destroyed or damaged during the summer conflict.