Israel’s UK Ambassador: Intra-Palestinian Violence to Blame for Gaza Reconstruction Delays
Israel’s Ambassador to the UK cautioned detractors this week from blaming Israel for delays in Gaza reconstruction following Israel’s Operation Protective Edge last summer against the coastal enclave’s terrorist rulers Hamas.
“While both the UN and the Arab League have identified the real obstacle to reconstruction as intra-Palestinian violence and intimidation, these voices choose to remain in their traditional comfort zone of pointing at Israel, and Israel alone, as the culpable party,” wrote Ambassador Daniel Taub in The Guardian.
“By electing to obscure the real challenges to reconstruction, these voices are not addressing the problems of Gaza, but instead helping to perpetuate them.”
Taub’s article sought to prove wrong those NGOs and observers who claim Israel is refusing to allow building materials to be imported into the Gaza Strip. In a joint statement issued in February, 30 international agencies identified Israel as “the main duty bearer”.
Taub explained how the Jewish state has been helping reconstruction efforts, despite concerns that Hamas is using the materials for their own needs.
Taub noted that “vast quantities” of imported aid have already been diverted by Hamas to construct miles of terror tunnels.
“Israel has cooperated fully with the trilateral Gaza reconstruction mechanism (GRM) established by the UN,” Taub said.
“To date under this arrangement it has facilitated the entry of over 62,000 tonnes of construction supplies to Gaza. This is corroborated by the Palestinian Authority’s own figures, which confirm that reconstruction is not being constrained by any lack of supply, and that stocks of all key materials, including cement, aggregate, and re-bar (steel), remain in surplus.”
Taub said one obstacle impeding reconstruction is the “failure of Palestinian governance” in Gaza.
Under the GRM – agreed between the Palestinian Authority, the UN and Israel – the PA holds primary responsibility for coordinating reconstruction for both public and private sectors. However, a “power struggle” for control of the Gaza Strip between Hamas and the PA has “degenerated into violence and recriminations, and taken precedence over the rebuilding effort,” Taub wrote.
The ambassador quoted Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil Elaraby, who admitted the political dispute was hindering the Gaza reconstruction. Elaraby told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, “The internal differences and the absence of cooperation between the PA and Hamas are behind the delay in reconstructing the Gaza Strip.”
Taub wrote that the UN’s under-secretary general, Jeffrey Feltman, related similar sentiments in his briefing to the National Security Council earlier this month.
Taub also noted that delays in reconstruction were impacted by the slow disbursement of international aid. Though donors pledged $5.4 billion in Gaza aid at a Cairo conference in October, a large chuck of the money has yet to be delivered. Donors remain unconvinced that Hamas wants to rebuild Gaza’s homes and not its terror tunnels.
After outlining the “true obstacles in Gaza,” Taub wrote that the underlying issues are “willfully ignored in the disingenuous comments by foreign aid agencies and legislators.”
“By masking the true causes of paralysis in Gaza, individuals and organizations claiming to be committed to the well-being of Palestinian civilians have instead become accessories to the perpetuation of their suffering,” Taub said.