12 April 2011 – A new United Nations report highlights progress made by the Palestinian Authority in building institutions necessary for a functioning State, while stressing the need for Israel to roll back “measures of occupation” and for an urgent resumption of negotiations between the two sides.
“In the limited territory under its control and within the constraints on the ground imposed by unresolved political issues, the PA has accelerated progress in improving its governmental functions,” states the report, entitled “Palestinian State-building: A Decisive Period.”
Prepared by the office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), the report notes that in the six areas where the UN is most engaged, governmental functions are now sufficient for a functioning government of a State.
These are governance, rule of law and human rights; livelihoods and productive sectors; education and culture; health; social protection; and infrastructure and water. In each sector, the report provides a detailed assessment of progress to date in light of strong Palestinian reform efforts and donor engagement. It notes Israeli measures to facilitate movement and access which have also supported economic activity.
The report was prepared for tomorrow’s meeting in Brussels of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, the 12-member body that serves as the principal policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Palestinian people.
The meeting is the last expected gathering of the committee before the September 2011 target date for completion of institutional readiness for statehood set by the Palestinian Authority and supported by the diplomatic grouping known as the Quartet – which comprises the UN, European Union, Russia and the United States.
UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry commended the progress achieved by President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
“This is a decisive period, as we approach the September 2011 target for the PA’s institutions to be ready for statehood. It is also the target set by the parties to reach a negotiated permanent status agreement to create a Palestinian State at peace with Israel,” he said.
While the Palestinian Authority is clearly “on track,” said Mr. Serry, “the institutional achievements of the State-building agenda are approaching their limits within the political and physical space currently available, precisely at the time when it is approaching its target date for completion.
“No one should underestimate what is at stake now. What we urgently need are further steps on the ground that can enable a broadening of this progress,” he added.
“I believe Israel needs to roll back measures of occupation to match the PA’s achievements. I also stress the urgent need for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations on a two-State solution to resume, if the State-building and political tracks are to come together by September.”
Senior UN officials have been calling for months now for an end to the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which have been stalled since late September following Israel’s refusal to extend a 10-month freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.
That decision prompted Mr. Abbas to withdraw from direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which had only resumed a few weeks earlier after a two-year hiatus.
The report also cites the need to more fully address the socio-economic situation in Gaza, including as Mr. Serry stated, the need for further approval of UN projects, a streamlining of coordination procedures, and the liberalization of the import of construction materials.
“The people of Gaza need this, and it would send an important signal,” he stated.
The report also voices concern about the lack of the presence of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza – which was taken over by Hamas in June 2007 – resulting in a “disconnect” between Gazans and many Palestinian institutions.