Report: EU diplomats praise Israel, criticise PA over Gaza reconstruction


According to a report in Haaretz, diplomats from UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain last week applauded Israeli efforts to aid the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, while protesting to the Palestinian Authority (PA) over its failure to aid the process.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli body responsible for coordinating movement at the Gaza border crossings, has announced a range of measures during the past several weeks to ease movement in and out of the Gaza Strip and improve the conditions which exist there. Last week, COGAT said that Israel will double the amount of water it supplies to Gaza after a coastal aquifer had become ineffective. Last month, it increased the number of entry and exit permits to Gaza merchants and it has also facilitated the export of significant Gaza produce to the West Bank, an important market for the Gaza economy.

According to Haaretz, these efforts were recognised by the European diplomats in a meeting on Thursday with Alon Ushpiz, a senior diplomat in Israel’s Foreign Ministry. Additionally, the consuls general from the five European countries apparently met with PA representatives and sharply criticised their failure to cooperate over efforts to re-build Gaza. A diplomat is quoted saying “continued internal political squabbling between Fatah and Hamas are adversely affecting the humanitarian situation in Gaza.”

The same group of European diplomats have also reportedly requested that Egypt ease movement at the Rafah border crossing and asked Gulf states to make good on their pledges of aid. Another unnamed European diplomat said, “The Israelis are removing hurdles and assisting reconstruction. At the same time, reconstruction is still stuck because of the internal fights on the Palestinian side, Egyptian behaviour and failure to deliver funds pledged by the Arab states.”

However, the European representatives also requested that Israel release tax funds it collects on the PA’s behalf, but has frozen is response to the PA’s efforts to target Israelis at the International Criminal Court.