A PLO official has mocked the US special envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt’s, call to hold a brainstorming session to discuss the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
The session, which was held in the White House on 13 March, aimed to find “real solutions” for the deteriorating situation in Gaza by focusing on developing its economy, solving poverty, reducing unemployment and improving the dire standard of living suffered by its population.
Tayseer Khaled, who is a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee and Head of the Palestinian Expatriate Affairs Department, accused Israel and the United States of waiting for the situation in Gaza to explode in order to use it to boost trading and carry out political manoeuvers. Speaking on behalf of the DFLP (Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine), a faction of the PLO, Khaled added that the group rejects the American administration’s exploitation of the troubles in Gaza for its own ends.
Khaled also said that the DFLP holds the United States responsible for the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza, citing its support of Israel during its 11-year-long siege of the Strip and series of devastating wars as evidence of its contribution. The wars, which were waged by Israel against Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014, had devastating consequences for the Palestinian population, killing over 2000 in 2014 alone and destroying much of the infrastructure and agriculture of the Strip.
Furthermore, Khaled warned of the danger of turning away from the growing humanitarian problems in Gaza, which have been further aggravated by the Palestinian Authority’s punitive measures against the Strip and higher taxes imposed by the ruling Hamas. The list of problems faced by Gaza is extensive, including food insecurity, electricity and water shortages and a deterioration in health services.
The Gaza Strip has been under air, land and see blockade by Israel and Egypt since 2007, following the takeover of the Strip by Hamas in the wake of the 2006 Palestinian Legislative elections. Although Israel officially disengaged from Gaza when it removed its illegal settlements in 2005, many have likened the ongoing strangulation of the Strip to a “remote control occupation.” The closing of border crossings and strict control over exit visas have left Gazans imprisoned in what has become known as the “world’s largest open-air prison.”
Tensions between the US and Palestinian officials have been high in recent months following President Trump’s unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his intention to move the US Embassy to the city as early as May 2018. Khaled added that the DFLP saw President Trump’s declaration as further evidence of the US’s unwavering support of Israel, irrespective of the manmade disaster it continues to cause in Gaza.