The Gaza Strip

Destroyed buildings in Gaza (Tim Williams)After three significant, intense conflicts in just five years, the Gaza Strip is in need more than ever of a long-term strategy that leads to sustainable change.

The latest conflict that began in July 2014 has exacerbated an already desperate situation. Gaza has one of the highest population densities in the world. With high poverty and unemployment rates, severely damaged infrastructure, a chronic lack of potable water, electricity shortages, and longstanding economic restrictions, Gazans face enormous humanitarian and development challenges.

In the immediate term, a lasting ceasefire is needed, coupled with a long-term solution to address the fundamental and underlying issues of Israel’s security, lifting the Israeli economic restrictions on Gaza, operationalising the Palestinian consensus government, and uniting Gaza and the West Bank as a political and economic entity.

The reconstruction and redevelopment of Gaza is critically important for its residents and for the future viability of the Palestinian economy. Gaza has the potential to provide an important trade corridor to Egypt and North Africa, and strategic access to the Mediterranean Sea. The Palestinian Authority - as the proper authority in Gaza - will play a central role in its reconstruction and redevelopment, helping to reunite Gaza and the West Bank.

A permanent status settlement between Israel and the Palestinians is dependent on sustaining and expanding the Palestinian economy. The full reconstruction of the Gaza Strip including housing, and primary infrastructure in energy, water and sanitation are essential for recovery. Transport infrastructure and PA operational capacity at the borders, such as the airport, seaport, commercial and pedestrian crossings with Israel and the Rafah crossing with Egypt, are necessary for economic redevelopment, as is movement between Gaza and the West Bank.

How is the OQR promoting the reconstruction and development of Gaza?

The OQR is working closely with the Palestinian Authority, the Government of Israel, regional governments and the international community on long-term and, where relevant, joint strategies for the redevelopment of Gaza. The OQR has a full-time advisor based in Gaza, and staff travel to Gaza on a regular basis. Quartet Representative Tony Blair maintains continuous contact with Egyptian, international, Palestinian and Israeli leaders to support the ceasefire efforts, with frequent visits to Cairo, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Ramallah during the latest conflict.

Following the indefinite ceasefire announced by Egypt on 26 August, the Quartet will concentrate on a long-term plan for Gaza and for its reconstruction. This will include the effective and efficient re-opening and re-connection of Gaza to the outside world, under the authority of the Palestinian Authority. Such a plan will enable a proper and decent life for the people of Gaza, as well as protect the security of the people of Israel.

Our work during the Gaza crisis, and with the international community on efforts to rebuild Gaza includes:

  • Ensuring humanitarian support remains uninterrupted throughout the hostilities, including power supply to Gaza. OQR advisers were in constant contact with Israeli authorities to repair damaged Israeli electrical supply lines, as well as working with partners on short-term solutions while the power plant is repaired and ensuring regular and reliable electricity and/or gas from Israel into Gaza, to alleviate the current crisis.
  • Gaza – along with the West Bank, including East Jerusalem – is a part of the Initiative for the Palestinian Economy, which is spearheaded by the OQR. The initiative has identified a number of major projects that would have a significant impact on Gaza and the Palestinian economy by extension. The IPE provides a key economic platform for coordination with wide-reaching potential to bring about lasting, transformative change and growth for the Palestinian economy – and to jointly develop the Gazan and West Bank economies.
  • As part of this forward-looking strategy, we are working to highlight the urgency of the immediate humanitarian relief effort and the importance of lifting the economic closure regime on Gaza to allow for comprehensive reconstruction and development.
  • Mobilising international resources for, and facilitating the implementation of, large and sustainable infrastructure projects in the water, sanitation and energy sectors.
  • Promoting the development of the legitimate private sector in Gaza, through expanded freedom to import and export products and services.
  • Working on improving the capacity and efficiency at the crossings and the entry of construction materials and industrial machinery necessary for the reconstruction and development work.
  • Exploring the expansion of financing and risk mitigation programs that will encourage private sector investment to aid in recovery efforts and to accelerate economic redevelopment.

Work on humanitarian relief is led by the UN, including a flash appeal to raise the tens of millions of dollars needed to help internally displaced civilians in Gaza. For more information on the appeal, please see here

 

(August 2014)