Blair: Longer Gaza recovery takes, the closer we could get to another round of conflict
Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014 in Office of Tony Blair, Office of the Quartet Representative
Quartet Representative Tony Blair has warned that the longer the recovery efforts in Gaza take, the closer Israel and the Palestinians could come to another round of conflict. In his opening remarks to a report prepared by the Office of the Quartet Representative (OQR) for the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee meeting in New York on Monday, Mr. Blair wrote: “The precarious situation in Gaza and southern Israel, the danger that violence could flare up again at any point, are precisely the reason to move as quickly as possible on the short-term and long-term recovery efforts.”
Mr. Blair on Wednesday welcomed the announcement by UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry that Israel and the Palestinians had agreed to an entry mechanism for materials into Gaza as an important step for the reconstruction efforts.
In the report to the AHLC meeting of donors to the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Blair advocated a comprehensive approach to supporting the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and urged the international community to continue to invest in the capacity of the Palestinian Authority “so that [the PA] can properly administer the West Bank while managing a major humanitarian, reconstruction and redevelopment effort in Gaza.”
“This is not about putting the pieces back together in Gaza … This is about making substantive, lasting change, uniting Gaza and the West Bank and opening Gaza back up to the world,” he noted, adding “a durable approach for Gaza requires a leading role from the PA, cooperation from Israel, support from Egypt, and the full backing of the international community.”
The report sets out the work of the OQR over the last year on economic development, movement and access and rule of law, and outlines plans for the coming period to support the international community’s recovery efforts in Gaza. The report notes that in order to help unlock the economic potential of the Palestinian economy, Israel must undertake a series of “enabling” measures – all the more urgent following the summer conflict in Gaza. These include: restoring two-way commercial relations between the West Bank and Gaza; providing additional water and energy resources, particularly to Gaza; expediting the implementation of critical infrastructure in the water and energy sectors in the West Bank and Gaza; allowing increased access to land in Area C; allowing the Palestinian telecommunications sector greater access to electromagnetic spectrum and roll out of 3G and 4G networks. For the Palestinians, the measures are primarily associated with the legislative and institution-building agenda – including on changes to improve rule of law and governance as the PA returns to Gaza as it will need to develop unified structures of governance, reunified systems of justice and legislation, and eventually establish sovereign power over all armed forces.
The report states that a comprehensive approach to economic development can help ensure that the Palestinian people have an economy that can support statehood – which is in the interest of all stakeholders.
In his message for the report, Mr. Blair also warned of potential damage to the prospects for a two-state solution if the current impasse between Israel and the Palestinian Authority continues. “The longer we leave this, the more difficult it will become to get back to the negotiating table, and negotiation is the only way that we can ensure an independent, viable Palestinian state, alongside a safe and secure Israel,” he said.