Today, Norway is convening the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) in Oslo. Donor countries to the Palestinian Authority (PA), as well as representatives of the PA and Israel will meet again, as they do twice a year, to discuss the humanitarian and economic situation in the occupied Palestinian territory. Since the AHLC’s last meeting, Israel has continued enforcing the illegal closure of Gaza and carried out the most widespread military assault on the Strip since 2014, all amidst an ongoing pandemic.
While negotiations on a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas are underway, and minor “easings” have already been introduced, such as the expansion of the trader permit quota to 10,000, the fundamental human rights of Palestinians in Gaza continue to be overlooked, at best, and at worst, are being used as bargaining chips for political gain. Israel continues to obstruct travel, even in blatantly humanitarian cases, to restrict access to items and materials needed to repair Gaza’s basic civilian infrastructure, and limit trade and other economic activity.
In a report published ahead of the AHLC meeting, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process warns against a “piecemeal approach” to the dire situation, calling on AHLC donors, the Israeli government, and the Palestinian Authority to coordinate an integrated response to the rapid deterioration in the Palestinian economy. With unemployment in Gaza near 50%, skyrocketing poverty rates, and recovery and reconstruction needs following the May escalation estimated at roughly 485 million USD, there is no question that such a response is urgently needed. However, as years of repeated “easings” and “humanitarian gestures” have shown, sustainable change for Gaza and the oPt as a whole can only begin with recognition of Israel’s enduring responsibility to protect the rights of Palestinians living under its control, and by removing severe access and movement restrictions that preclude development, recovery, and hope.