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EU officials: PA to blame for Gaza reconstruction delay

March 9, 2015 at 10:18 am

Senior officials representing five European countries criticised the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and the Gulf States for delaying the reconstruction of Gaza Strip without laying any blame on Israel which has imposed a suffocating blockade on the enclave.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper yesterday reported that diplomats representing Germany, France, Britain, Spain and Italy met on Thursday with Alon Ushpiz, a senior diplomat in the Foreign Ministry. “The European representatives surprisingly praised Israel’s actions over the past few months to promote reconstruction in Gaza and ease the humanitarian crisis in the Strip,” the paper revealed.

“The Europeans complimented Israel’s cooperation with the reconstruction apparatus that the United Nations is operating, Israel’s doubling of the water supply to Gaza and the ease on export restrictions from the Gaza Strip to Israel, the West Bank and abroad.”

The newspaper quoted an official in the Israeli Foreign Ministry as saying that the European officials said that during a meeting held between the consuls of the five countries and the Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah, they delivered a strong worded letter of protest to the Palestinian leadership about the lack of sufficient cooperation with efforts to rebuild the Gaza Strip.

The paper quoted a European diplomat who is familiar with the meeting as saying: “They conveyed an unequivocal message that the PA can do more to promote reconstruction in the Strip, and that continued internal political squabbling between Fatah and Hamas are adversely affecting the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the pace and scope of reconstruction.”

The diplomat added that a similar meeting took place in Cairo during which the European diplomats expressed dissatisfaction and concern about Egypt’s lack of cooperation with reconstruction operations and the continued closure of the Rafah crossing for long periods.

“They told the Egyptians that we need their cooperation to help bridge the gaps between Fatah and Hamas, and that they are delaying the reconstruction process,” the diplomat said.

The paper however said that it would be difficult for Egypt to help in this regard after its courts deemed Hamas a terrorist organisation last week.

Haaretz added that the European officials also met with Gulf officials to complain that these countries had not transferred the funds they had promised to help with the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.