During the last six months, the root causes of the crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) remained intact while some negative effects, such as increased restrictions on Palestinian movement, worsened. In addition, there was a sharp increase in internal Palestinian violence. Rocket attacks against Israel continued from Gaza as did reports of smuggling of weapons into Gaza by militants. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) conducted significant air strikes in the Strip and continued incursions into West Bank population centres in efforts to kill or arrest militants.
In early June, Palestinian factional fighting in Gaza reached new levels and Hamas militants seized de facto control of the Gaza Strip. Palestinian Authority (PA) President, Mahmoud Abbas declared a state of emergency, dismissed the Prime Minister and installed an emergency government. These actions dissolved the Palestinian National Unity Government (NUG) that was formed in March.
The NUG had created openings for increased interaction with some donor states and initially curbed heavy internal Palestinian violence. However, the uneasy cohabitation of Fatah and Hamas officials became increasingly apparent, particularly among security personnel. The ability of the NUG to function effectively depended to large extent on an increased and continuous flow of revenue which did not occur: Israel continued to withhold customs revenues from the PA, and many donors did not renew their assistance, which comprised approximately 55% and 25% of the PA's annual revenues, respectively. At the time of writing, negotiations for the transfer of customs revenues to the new emergency government were underway.
It is still too early to evaluate the long-term effects of the collapse of the NUG and the constitutional crisis that has followed its demise, with Hamas in Gaza purporting to continue governing the Gaza Strip despite the decisions taken by President Abbas. The immediate humanitarian concern is the ongoing closures of the Gaza crossings, which if continued into July may lead to food and supply shortages. However, given progress in opening some crossing for the supply of humanitarian goods, and given that the root causes of the underlying crisis have not changed, no major change is planned for this Mid-Year Review (MYR) of the CAP.
Donor funding increased during 2006 to approximately US$ 750 million (1). However, the funds were disbursed through a variety of channels, in contrast to previous years when revenue went through the PA single treasury account. This fragmentation has obviously hampered the PA's ability to coordinate essential humanitarian and public services to the Palestinian population.
The continued functioning of PA institutions such as the Ministries of Health, Education and Social Affairs, remains a critical to meeting the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population and alleviating the crisis. However, the capacity of these institutions to deliver essential services has weakened considerably.
Regrettably, humanitarian assistance through the CAP continues to be a mainstay for the population in the oPt. Recent polls show that more than 70% of Palestinians feel that they needed assistance (2) and 49% stated that the importance of assistance in their lives has risen in the past six months (3).
For this MYR, CAP sectors have conducted a review and update of the humanitarian needs. The main conclusion is that the priority needs identified in the CAP remain valid, due to the lack of improvement in the humanitarian situation, limited access and the continuing PA fiscal crisis.
Despite these realities on the ground, the CAP remains only 29% funded. This MYR has resulted in a reduction of 7% ($30 million) compared to the original requirements. The impact of under funding of essential programmes will be felt by Palestinians throughout the oPt in particular the agricultural, water and sanitation and economic/infrastructure sectors.
Looking ahead - as the CAP enters its sixth year in 2008 - it is essential to plan for short-term emergency response in alleviating poverty and supporting livelihoods, as well as to support the PA more actively in its efforts to achieve longer-term development objectives. Accordingly, CAP 2008 is likely to play a bridging role by serving (alongside other mechanisms) as a channel to fund humanitarian and recovery activities that are supportive of PA development and capacity building