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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

UN official ‘welcomes’ Qatar’s generosity in besieged Gaza


Qatar has pumped million into humanitarian projects in Gaza.

A top United Nations official has welcomed “Qatar’s generous contribution to support vulnerable families and improve the dire socioeconomic and humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.”

Tor Wennesland, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process made the comments during the Security Council’s monthly meeting on ‘The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.’

“The UN will continue to work closely with the Palestinian Authority and partners, including Egypt, to solidify the ceasefire, allow the entry of urgent humanitarian assistance and stabilize the situation in Gaza,” Wennesland said in a statement. 

In mid-September, the UN resumed distribution of Qatari aid to the besieged Strip after months of obstacles imposed by Israeli authorities.

The United Nations revealed that the funding amounted to $40 million, while Al Jazeera earlier reported a total of 320 shekels, approximately $100, is set to be distributed to each family.

Read also: UN begins distribution of Qatar cash aid to Gaza

Some 100,000 families benefited from this financial aid after an 11-day bombardment destroyed the homes and lives of many innocent civilians. 

This came after Qatar’s aid envoy to Gaza Mohammed Al-Emadi revealed that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had withdrawn from an agreement to provide funding from Qatar to the Strip over concerns that its involvement could expose it to legal issues.

Following the resumption of financial aid, Qatar’s Al Jazeera network reported that the first phase of the reconstruction process of Gaza is set to start soon.

The reconstruction plan will be implemented in three phases: residential units, infrastructure and high-rise properties. 

The Qatari committee will contribute to the first phase, which includes rebuilding around 1,000 destroyed units, including 800 partially damaged homes.

Wennesland said “all materials required to implement the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan and the May 2021 Flash Appeal should be allowed into Gaza. All parties must facilitate unimpeded access to humanitarian relief.”

He stressed that “UN and INGO humanitarian staff must also be able to enter and exit Gaza on a regular basis.”

He also said that Hamas, Gaza’s ruling authority, should refrain from actions that prevent important humanitarian assistance from being delivered into the besieged Strip. 

Illegal Israeli settlements

The UN official slammed Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine as illegal and confirmed they undermine the principle of a two-state solution.

I reiterate that all settlements are illegal under international law and that they undermine the prospect of achieving a viable two-State solution in line with UN resolutions, international law and prior agreements. The pause in new advancements and tenders of plans for housing units in settlements observed during this reporting period must become permanent,” Wennesland said. 

He also expressed deep concern about ongoing demolition and confiscation of Palestinian-owned properties, including “internationally funded humanitarian projects.”

I urge Israel to cease demolitions and evictions, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian law, and to approve plans that would enable these communities to build legally and address their development needs,” he stated. 

He called on Israeli security forces to apply maximum restraint, highlighting the mounting death toll in the Occupied Palestinian Territory due to violent attack on Palestinians.

“I am appalled that children continue to be victims of violence. Pertinent authorities must carry out thorough, independent, impartial and prompt investigations into all instances of possible excessive use of force and hold perpetrators accountable,” he noted, urging the occupying state to protect the Palestinian population and to investigate violence agains them. 

“I underscore that all perpetrators of violence must be held accountable and swiftly brought to justice,” Wennesland stressed. 

Wennesland also urged Israel to return withheld bodies of Palestinians to their families as per international humanitarian law.

High-level meetings 

Last month, President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz came together for their first meeting in years, prompting praise from officials worldwide who described it as a “window of opportunity” to revive negotiations between the two sides.

During the Security Council briefing on the Middle East on Wednesday, Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary (UN Political) Prakash Gupta said all parties should take advantage of this opportunity to renew efforts to resume these negotiations “as they provide the best platform” to resolve all issues and achieve a two-state solution.

Wennesland also welcomed the resumption of interaction between the two rivals.

“I encourage both Parties to take urgent steps that are necessary to stabilize the Palestinian economy and strengthen the Palestinian institutions. I also urge the implementation of existing agreements by both sides,” he said. 

“Palestinian unity is crucial to advancing a two-state solution. It is therefore critical that Egyptian-led intra-Palestinian reconciliation efforts continue,” the official stated, echoing the UN’s position in supporting these efforts.

“I am encouraged that many Israelis and Palestinians remain committed to achieving a two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace despite the significant challenges. We in the international community must support the civil society organisations that continue to work tirelessly to build trust and advance the prospects for peace.”

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