White House summit on Gaza aims to ‘end Palestinian cause’

Latest news

    The US is meant to reveal several proposals that tackle some of the humanitarian issues faced by Gaza’s residents [File: Reuters]

    As the White House prepares to hold a conference aimed at resolving the Gaza Strip’s humanitarian crisis, Palestinians in the besieged enclave say summit is an attempt at erasing the Palestinian cause and turning it into “an aid project”.

    Palestinian representatives, who declined the White House’s invitation to attend, were absent at the conference happening on Tuesday in Washington, DC.

    However, representatives from some 20 countries, including Israel and several Arab countries, are among the attendees who will discuss Gaza’s health challenges, its chronic contaminated water and electricity problem, as well as poverty and food security.

    The US was expected to unveil several proposals that tackle some of the issues faced by Gaza’s residents.

    US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt – who are key supporters of Israeli rightwing policies against Palestinians – will speak at the summit.

    In his opening remarks, Greenblatt laid blame on Hamas, the Palestinian group which governs Gaza, saying it is “profoundly unfit” to govern the territory.

    Gaza aid programmes under increasing pressure

    “This is about the health, safety and happiness of the people of Gaza, and of all Palestinians, Israelis and Egyptians.”

    Gaza residents continue to face a desperate situation because of the blockade with water and electricity shortages, as well as a lack of medicines and doctors unable to perform surgeries.

    The Israeli blockade of Gaza, in its current form, has been in place since June 2007, when Israel imposed a land, sea and air blockade on the area after Hamas won elections in the enclave a year earlier.

    Israel controls Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters, as well as two of the three border crossing points; the third is controlled by Egypt. Both Israel and Egypt have kept their borders largely shut and are responsible for further deteriorating the already-weakened economic and humanitarian situations.

    Gaza, which has seen three Israeli assaults in the last decade, is home to some two million people, many of whom participated in protests against Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last year.

    Since Trump’s move, the PA has questioned the US position as an honest broker in mediating peace efforts between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

    While Palestinian officials see East Jerusalem as the capital of their potential state, the move, experts have said, effectively “killed” the Oslo peace process that was based on that premise.

    ‘Dishonest’ broker

    With the US now perceived as a “dishonest” broker by many Palestinians, residents of the strip believe that the conference is being held to “protect Israel” from another war with Gaza.

    “This would stand in the way of Trump’s plans,” 29-year-old Abdulkareem Aboul Enein, told Al Jazeera.

    “I expect the results of the conference to be positive for the people of Gaza, especially since Israel is involved.

    Gaza: Healthcare infrastructure crumbling

    “While this may be a positive thing for Gazans, I think it may hurt the unity government and the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas.”

    Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian political parties, signed a reconciliation agreement in October 2017, ending a decade of division that saw two parallel governments operating in Gaza and the West Bank, respectively.

    The agreement to form a unity government was signed in the Egyptian capital Cairo on October 13, but efforts to implement the deal have faced obstacles.

    Aboul Enein believes it was the right decision for the PA to decline the White House’s invitation.

    “I don’t think the PA should have attended – I think none of the Palestinian officials should attend any event initiated by the US until Trump’s administration revokes its policies against Palestinians,” he said.

    Similarly, 23-year-old Ibtihal Mohammed says the US is merely attempting to ensure that it, in the eyes of the international community, “maintains its call for peace and stability in the region.”

    “But unfortunately, and as usual, this is just a façade and an act that it puts on year after year,” she said.

    “I think the outcome of the conference will be minimal – perhaps some aid will be delivered but that won’t last, especially if certain conditions are not met.”

    ‘Pardoning’ Israel

    In January, Trump announced the US government would be cutting more than half of its planned funding to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, a move that could prove catastrophic for millions of people in need.

    Withholding $65m out of a $125m aid package earmarked for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) could hinder the agency’s operations to a large extent.

    For nearly 70 years, UNRWA has been the lifeline to the more than five million registered Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories and Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

    And for Gaza’s residents, UNRWA’s support is the only constant.

    US to open embassy in Jerusalem in May 2018

    As such, some Gazans see the silver lining in the latest efforts put forward by the US to end Gaza’s humanitarian crisis.

    Gaza-based writer Asmaa al-Ghoul told Al Jazeera any conference tackling the “unbearable living conditions of the Gaza Strip is welcome”.

    “The US has done nothing in the past besides place Hamas on a global terror list, which only complicated things for the strip further,” she said.

    Al-Ghoul also placed blame on both Fatah and Hamas for the worsening conditions in Gaza.

    “Fatah did nothing to stop the blockade and instead, its compliance elongated the siege – and Hamas failed at several attempts to reconcile and find a political solution to end the siege on Gaza,” she said.

    “We have no expectations”

    But others insisted that the conference is a just a front, and maintain that the conference does not have the people of Gaza’s best interest at heart.

    “Without a doubt, I think that the conference is a front, and its objective is to serve Israel’s interests,” Sami Akeeleh, a 42-year-old academic researcher, told Al Jazeera.

    “They [US] wants to remove blame from Israel regarding the deteriorating conditions here in Gaza.”

    Akeeleh said efforts are in place to pardon Israel from making compromises to ease Gaza’s humanitarian situation.

    “In light of Trump’s Jerusalem announcement, it’s like the Palestinian cause has shifted to a cluster of humanitarian crises – and this conference may be an effort to reinforce this particular discourse,” Akeeleh said. 

    View the original article: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/white-house-summit-gaza-aims-palestinian-180313203016877.html

    “The US is turning the Palestinian cause into bags of aid.”

    In the same category are

    Kunal Kamra: Indian comedian riles ruling party with edgy humour Kamra's abrasive comedy has made waves in the backdrop of the government of PM Modi trying to regulate, and even pre-empt, any criticism Mumbai, In...
    Japan to halt missile attack drills after Trump-Kim summit In January, Tokyo held its first evacuation drill after North Korea launched missiles that flew over Japan Japan has decided to halt drills to prep...
    Costa’s goal sees off strong Iran challenge in World Cup 2018 Iran's players were left dejected after the narrow loss against Spain Follow Al Jazeera's coverage of the World Cup 2018 here. A scrappy second hal...
    World’s plastic waste crisis to worsen after China import ban China's decision to stop accepting plastic waste from other countries is causing plastic to stockpile around the globe, and wealthy countries must fin...
    Yemen rebels vow to fight on after Hudaida airport defeat Pro-government forces seized Hodeida airport on Wednesday, in a major step towards retaking the port city Yemen's Houthi rebels have vowed to fight...
    South Sudan rebel chief meets President Kiir in Ethiopia South Sudan conflict has created Africa's largest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwanda genocide South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar met Wednesda...

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.