Closing the Gap:
Palestinian State-building and Resumed Negotiations
United Nations Special Coordinator Robert Serry, whose office prepared the report, said today: "We have long argued, including in prior reports to the AHLC, that it is urgent to address the gap between state-building progress and the absence of a political horizon. The resumption of negotiations on 29 July 2013 in Washington began the process of closing this gap. Though many challenges remain, there is renewed hope for a final status agreement in which Palestinians can realise their rightful aspirations for an independent and viable Palestinian state and Israelis can meet their legitimate security needs and become a full partner in the development of a stable and prosperous Middle East."
In order to allow the peace process to move forward, Serry said it was essential to create a conducive environment, calling on the parties to reverse negative trends and foster positive developments on the ground. In this context, he said the United Nations welcomed the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian economic cooperation, as well as the recent announcement by Israel to grant additional work permits to Palestinians from the West Bank. Serry added: "As it is essential to include Gaza in efforts to strengthen the Palestinian economy, I particularly welcome the Israeli decision this week to allow significant amounts of construction materials for the private sector into Gaza and other easing measures to address urgent needs in the Strip. The United Nations will continue, as a matter of priority, its efforts to improve the difficult situation in Gaza."
The report identifies additional recommendations geared towards fostering Palestinian economic growth, both in order to improve the lives of Palestinians and as an additional source of revenue through taxation for the Palestinian Authority (PA). Serry cautioned however: "Though this growth will ultimately reduce the amount of external donor assistance required, in the short-medium term it is essential that donors continue to provide timely, predictable direct budget support while also scaling up development financing and supporting the upcoming Palestinian National Development Plan, covering the period 2014-2016."
Note to Editors: The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) is a 15-member committee that serves as the principal policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the oPt. The AHLC is chaired by Norway and cosponsored by the EU and the US. In addition, the United Nations participates together with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The AHLC seeks to promote dialogue between donors, the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel. The full report to the AHLC prepared by the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process is attached to this release and includes an executive summary of its main conclusions.