The Middle East Quartet of peacemakers on Wednesday joined calls for a quick start to the rebuilding of war-ravaged Gaza before the current truce with Israel ends in renewed violence.
“The precarious situation in Gaza and southern Israel, the danger that violence could flare up again at any point, are precisely the reason to move as quickly as possible on the short-term and long-term recovery efforts,” Quartet envoy Tony Blair wrote in remarks published by his office ahead of a meeting on international aid to the Palestinians.
Blair said that aid to the coastal strip should go beyond just repairing the devastation wrought by Israel’s 50-day offensive.
“This is not about putting the pieces back together in Gaza,” he wrote in the introduction to a report he is to present in New York on Monday to a session of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, which coordinates international donor support for he Palestinians
“This is about making substantive, lasting change, uniting Gaza and the West Bank and opening Gaza back up to the world,” he wrote.
Blair’s report calls for the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas to take a leading role in Gaza’s reconstruction, with the “comprehensive” support of the international community.
He welcomed Tuesday’s announcement that Israel and the Palestinians had accepted a UN-brokered deal on delivering construction materials to Gaza that would ensure they would not be diverted by Hamas militants.
The July-August Israeli operation in Gaza killed at least 2,100 Palestinians, and the UN said it made some 100,000 people homeless in the long term.
On the Israeli side, 73 people died, mostly soldiers.
The cost for full reconstruction of homes and infrastructure destroyed during the war is estimated at $7.8 billion by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction.
(Agencies via Ma’an – www.maannews.net)