Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

UN calls for political and economic reforms in the Palestinian Territories

Written by Eric Apim on Thursday, January 20th 2022 à 12:05 | Read 233 times

Tor Wennesland, UN envoy to the Middle East, is concerned about the economic situation in Palestine (photo: UN/Manuel Elias)
Tor Wennesland, UN envoy to the Middle East, is concerned about the economic situation in Palestine (photo: UN/Manuel Elias)
PALESTINE / ISRAEL. Speaking in a video conference from Jerusalem on Wednesday 19 January 2022, Tor Wennesland expressed his concern about the budgetary situation of the Palestinian Authority. The UN envoy to the Middle East described it as "disastrous" and stressed that it "threatens its stability".

Tor Wennesland criticised "piecemeal approaches and half-measures" that only prolong the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Territories. "We need to address short-term challenges and urgent crises. At the same time, we must ensure that the solutions put in place advance our ultimate goal: an end to the occupation and the achievement of a two-state solution on the basis of UN resolutions, international law and previous agreements," he insisted.

"Unilateral measures and factors of conflict must stop. Political and economic reforms must be implemented to ensure the continued ability of the Palestinian Authority to function effectively, while building donor confidence and support," commented Tor Wennesland. He urges linking to a political framework "the efforts of the parties and the international community to stabilise and improve conditions on the ground."

Improving the movement of goods and people in Gaza

At the end of December 2021, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz achieved several steps forward, including updating the registration of some 9,500 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel has also planned to pay 100 million shekels (€28m) as an advance on the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.

Benny Gantz also indicated that he would grant additional entry permits for officials and businessmen. In addition, in January 2022, 10,000 permits for merchants and traders were validated out of approximately 12,000 approved documents. This is the highest number for years, according to Tor Wennesland. He welcomed all measures to increase the movement of goods and people in and out of the Gaza Strip while encouraging Israel and the Palestinian Authority to further improve access to trade.

The UN envoy, however, calls on both parties to "continue and broaden this engagement to encompass the underlying political issues" and to work, in a coordinated approach, to "overcome the political, economic and institutional obstacles blocking the path to a meaningful peace process". He includes in this wish, the need for "all Palestinian factions to reach a political consensus to bring Gaza and the occupied West Bank under a single legitimate and democratic Palestinian authority."

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