"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
This report provides an update of the work of the Quartet Representative (QR), Tony Blair, and the Office of the Quartet Representative (OQR) and its partners to support the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s state-building program since the last Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) Meeting in April 2011. The main report outlines this work in greater detail, describes the context in which the OQR’s work has evolved, and sets out the priorities of the OQR for the coming months.
A report from the QR on implementation of the package of measures agreed with the Government of Israel (GoI) on 4 February 2011 can be found in the Annex to this report.
Gaza: The OQR has continued to promote the easing of access into and out of Gaza so that crucial reconstruction work can take place, Palestinians can access basic services and legitimate business can prosper. During the reporting period, the OQR’s primary foci have been: (i) continuing to advocate for the implementation of the Israeli decisions on 4 February 2011 to allow Gazan textile, furniture and agricultural exports to overseas markets and the importation of construction materials for the private sector on a pilot basis. We anticipate construction materials will begin to enter Gaza imminently under this initiative. The OQR continues to raise the need for Gazan goods to access markets in both Israel and the West Bank; (ii) supporting PA and GoI initiatives to expand Gaza’s crossing capacity; (iii) promotion of infrastructure recovery projects, particularly in the water and energy sectors; (iv) development of the offshore Gaza Marine gas field; (v) movement of businesspeople through the Erez crossing; (vi) supporting expedited transfers of cash from Palestinian bank branches in Gaza to the West Bank and Israel; and (vi) supporting the expedited approval of official address changes from Gaza to the West Bank for long-term West Bank residents who currently have a Gazan address in the population registry.
Movement, Access & Trade Facilitation: The OQR has continued its work with the GoI and the PA to improve movement and access to, from and within the West Bank and Gaza. To support the PA’s program of economic development, the OQR has worked to improve: (i) the capacity of the Allenby Bridge crossing, particularly for the crossing of goods in containers; (ii) Arab-Israeli access to the West Bank; (iii) tourist access within and into and out of the West Bank; and (iv) West Bank goods access, particularly at the Tarqumiya, Sha’ar Ephraim and Jalameh crossings.
Private Sector Development: The OQR’s support to the PA’s private sector development program has focused on: (i) supporting the construction of four electrical sub-stations in the West Bank, with a particular focus on facilitating the required insurance coverage; (ii) engaging the GoI on the need for systematic changes in the Israeli system governing foreign investment in the Palestinian economy; (iii) assisting in the preparation for PA World Trade Organization accession; (iv) promoting new Palestinian commercial legislation to facilitate economic activity and investment in the PA; (v) in conjunction with its partners, working to improve PA capacity and legislation establishing food safety standards; (vi) working with the Union of Stone & Marble, other stakeholders and leading companies on a range of issues relating to stone and marble sectoral development; (vii) continuing to advocate for the establishment of a permanent access road to the Rawabi housing development project; and (viii) supporting the development of industrial parks in the PA.
Palestinian Use of Area C: The OQR has focused on three areas: (i) advocating for a moratorium on demolitions; (ii) promoting effective planning for Palestinian communities in Area C, together with UN HABITAT and a range of partners; and (iii) working to improve the Israeli permitting system, including for basic service infrastructure – with the US Government, as agreed with the GoI in the 4 February 2011 package of measures – and for private sector initiatives.
East Jerusalem: The OQR’s primary work foci have been: (i) expanding access to mortgage loans to provide improved housing opportunities to Palestinian East Jerusalemites; (ii) attracting foreign investment to East Jerusalem for small to medium enterprises and landmark development projects as a means to revitalize the local economy; (iii) developing an agenda to expand the number of classrooms for Palestinian children in East Jerusalem; (iv) seeking improved access to East Jerusalem for West Bank hospital staff and for patients with chronic illnesses; and (v) reviving tourism activity and investment in East Jerusalem.
Rule of Law: The OQR has continued to advocate an easing of Israeli restrictions on the PA's law-and-order operations in the West Bank, support continued capacity-building efforts in Palestinian justice and security sector institutions, and encourage Palestinian-Israeli cooperation in the justice sector. The OQR’s work in this area has been primarily directed at: (i) working with Palestinian and Israeli officials to facilitate improved movement and access for Palestinian judges and prosecutors; (ii) working with the PA and international counterparts to expedite the recruitment of a research team and the execution of a study of the impact of Israeli restrictions on the PA’s criminal justice operations; (iii) continuing to assist cooperation in the justice sector, including efforts to facilitate the work of the Joint Legal Committee; and (iv) continuing to work on assessing and mapping PA police presence and control in the West Bank and identifying obstacles to the development of greater operational and continuous presence in Areas A and B.
Promoting Holy Land Tourism: The OQR’s support to the Palestinian and Israeli tourism sector has focused on the following areas: (i) the opening of all Bethlehem area checkpoints to Jerusalem for tourism, which is now a permanent measure, and further movement and access measures across the West Bank; (ii) the launch and implementation of a PA-led Bethlehem Masterplan (with USAID); (iii) the return of foreign tourism along the Nativity Route (via the northern West Bank); (iv) the revival of tourism activity and investment in East Jerusalem; (v) exploring avenues for cooperation among Israeli and Palestinian tourism entrepreneurs; and (vi) encouraging a revision of foreign travel advisories on Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Continuity of PA Financing: Integral to its agenda to support PA development priorities, the OQR has worked to: (i) mobilize timely and predictable donor assistance; (ii) maintain regular monthly transfers of revenues to the PA, which were temporarily suspended by the GoI following the reconciliation announcement between Fatah and Hamas on 4 May 2011; and (iii) facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian mechanism to enhance PA revenue collection, an initiative included in the February 4 2011 package of measures approved by the GoI.