Secretary-General's press encounter at Gaza Reconstruction Conference
Cairo, Egypt, 12 October 2014
Assalaam alaikum. Good afternoon.
Since I am leaving shortly for Israel and Palestine, I wanted to have this chance to share a few words about the Gaza reconstruction conference.
I would like to highlight three quick points.
First, today the international community clearly recognized the massive needs in Gaza – and is underscoring its commitment to act in a massive way.
Second, there was a universal understanding that Gaza cannot be rebuilt on a weak political foundation. That is why the United Nations will continue to support the Government of National Consensus. The recent unity government cabinet meeting in Gaza is a good sign of progress that must continue.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, as I said this morning, this must be the last Gaza reconstruction conference. The cycle of building and destroying must end. Donors may be fatigued – but the people of Gaza are bruised and bloody. Enough is enough.
It is time to chart a course to a just and final peace between Israelis and Palestinians – one that addresses all the outstanding issues.
As a part of this effort to look ahead and build a better future, I believe it is important to be on the ground. That is why I am announcing today that I will visit Gaza on Tuesday to listen directly to the people of Gaza, survey the situation for myself and help advance our reconstruction efforts.
With those brief remarks, I am ready to take a couple of questions.
Q: [Inaudible on Libya and Gaza]
On your second question, it is absolutely necessary that the parties, Israeli and Palestinians, sit down together and continue their peace negotiations. We are ready to build Gaza. As I said, we can not continue to build and destroy and build and destroy like this. This should be the last reconstruction conference. Whatever we may reconstruct this may not be sustainable if it is not supported by political dialogue. That is why peace talks are the most important. There is no alternative to dialogue and resolving all these underlying issues through political negotiations.
Q: [inaudible on donor fatigue]
SG: I have no doubt of the sincerity and willingness of the international community, particularly donors, to help the Palestinian people. At the same time, we should understand the level of frustration on the part of the international community, particularly donors, when they supported reconstruction in 2009 and then, just two years later it was destroyed. Rebuild and destroy. This is already third time. To put it simply, for a third grader student in Palestine, a very young student, for them it is already third war. Then what do you expect? As Secretary-General I am also very much angry about this continuing violence. I have been urging that while we are ready to rebuild Gaza, it must be the last time. I hope that my successor, and the successors of the many Foreign Ministers here, should not be obliged to come and donate. There is some fatigue on the part of the donors, if this situation is not supported by political dialogue.
Q: [inaudible about the mechanism to rebuild Gaza]
SG: The Palestine Authority has presented good proposals. The United Nations also has made good proposals. The important thing is how to deliver all the promised contributions. The United Nations will work very closely with donor countries and, as well as particularly, with the Palestinian authority. As you know there was a trilateral agreement between the United Nations, Palestine and Israel that there will be free movement of goods for reconstruction materials. That is very encouraging. At the same time we hope that the crossings will be open to facilitate the easy movement of people and goods. And there will be a clear mechanism for accountability and smooth implementation.