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UN: Viability of PA threatened by major financial, political challenges

April 25, 2019 12:56 P.M. (Updated: May 2, 2019 10:26 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- In a newly published report, the United Nations noted that the scope of the challenges facing the Palestinian people and government is unprecedented. A major fiscal crisis, coupled with growing humanitarian needs, and the lack of a political prospect for a negotiated solution, threatens the stability of the West Bank and the very survival of the Palestinian state-building effort, according to a press release issued on Thursday.

The report, which was issued by the office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) for the upcoming bi-annual meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) in Brussels on April 30th, warned of the unprecedented financial, security, and political challenges faced by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The UN report detailed the backdrop, which includes continued Israeli military occupation, settlement expansion and demolitions, territorial fragmentation, lack of jurisdiction, increased Palestinian protection needs, violence between Palestinians and the Israeli Security Forces and dwindling financial support.

Of particular concern, is the financial crisis caused by Israel’s decision to partially withhold six percent of the clearance revenue it collects on behalf of the PA and the subsequent Palestinian decision not to accept any such revenue unless the full amount it is owed is transferred. As a result of these decisions, the Palestinian Government has been deprived of some 65% of its revenue and forced to take extreme austerity measures.

The report also warned that unless resolved, the impact of this crisis will take years to undo and reiterated the UN Secretary-General’s call to both sides to engage in a constructive manner with the goal of restoring the revenue transfers in full, in line with the Paris Protocol on Economic Relations.

It stressed the United Nations’ firm commitment to continue working with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the international community to find a solution to the unprecedented fiscal crisis as a matter of urgency.

The report outlined a number of steps taken by the UN to facilitate the implementation of critical humanitarian and economic interventions in Gaza, which were supported by the AHLC in September 2018.

These achievements include a more than doubling of the electricity supply to the Gaza Strip since October 2018, the creation of thousands of temporary jobs, and the provision of emergency medical supplies. It further detailed continuing efforts to find sustainable solutions for the energy, water and health sectors.

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, said, “Addressing the deteriorating humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza requires not only donor funding and project implementation, but bold policy decisions by all sides.”

Mladenov added, “The continued Israeli closures on Gaza, coupled with internal Palestinian division and more than a decade of Hamas rule in Gaza, has resulted in the breakdown of governance in the Gaza Strip and increased the risk of war.”

The AHLC, chaired by Norway and co-sponsored by the European Union (EU) and the United States with the participation of the UN together with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), serves as the principal policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the occupied Palestinian territory and seeks to promote dialogue between donors, the PA and the Israeli government.

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