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Netherlands contributing to reconstruction in Gaza
News item | 13-10-2014
The Netherlands is helping reconstruction efforts in the Gaza Strip. This year the Netherlands will spend €12 million on Gaza and a total of over €50 million on the Palestinian Territories. The Dutch focus in the Palestinian Territories is on humanitarian relief, food security, water, the development of the rule of law, security and human rights. The aid is channelled via the Dutch representation to the Palestinian Authority, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), NGOs and businesses. The Netherlands remains committed to the development of the Palestinian Territories and intends to maintain a similar level of involvement in the years ahead.
Foreign minister Frans Timmermans announced the Dutch contribution at a donor conference for Gaza held in Cairo on Sunday. ‘It’s crucial that people in Gaza can start to repair and rebuild the tens of thousands of houses that have been damaged or destroyed,’ he said.
The Netherlands is making extra funds available for the import of building materials to the Gaza Strip via the UN’s Materials Monitoring Unit and for UN efforts to clear explosive ordnance. A contribution of one million dollars will enable the UN to check imports of building materials to Gaza. This initiative is designed to allay Israeli security concerns about the import of building materials and ensure that hospitals and schools can be rebuilt in the Gaza Strip.
Together with the US, the EU and its partners in the region, the Netherlands continues to urge a political solution to the situation in Gaza, so that there is no repeat of last summer’s violence. Reunifying Gaza and the West Bank is part of such a political solution. ‘By working towards a permanent ceasefire and developing projects that strengthen the Gazan economy, the Netherlands is seeking to bring a political solution closer,’ said Mr Timmermans.
He also noted that Israel’s security concerns had to be taken seriously. The Dutch-financed container scanner at Kerem Shalom will therefore play an important role in checks on imports of building materials. ‘The machine is already allowing humanitarian goods to be imported securely and from now on it will also process building materials for reconstruction,’ said Mr Timmermans. The scanner has been in use since late last year for checks on goods being traded between Gaza and Europe. Following Israel’s recent decision to allow the resumption of exports from Gaza to the West Bank, the scanner can also be used for these goods – at present chiefly agricultural and fisheries products. ‘This is an important step in the opening up of Gaza’s borders to all trade,’ said Mr Timmermans.