Ramallah, 12 Ramadan 1436/29 June 2015 (MINA) – The Palestinian Prime Minister met with a UN official Sunday to discuss reconstruction in the Gaza Strip, where thousands remain homeless.
PM Rami Hamdallah and UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov reviewed the current process of reconstruction in the strip, where Palestinian leadership and residents have struggled to repair the damage from three wars with Israel in the past six years.
In the most recent offensive, Israeli forces left some 18,000 homes destroyed or severely damaged, according to UN figures.
Israel’s nearly nine year blockade of the Gaza Strip as well as the failure of international donors to come through on funding promises have primarily been blamed for the stagnant reconstruction, Ma’an News Agency reports as quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA).
The PM’s meeting with Mladenov came shortly after the Palestinian Ministry of Public Works and Housing minister Mufid Hasayneh announced new plans for speeding up reconstruction in the strip.
“We (the Palestinians, the UN and Israel) have come to an agreement about the mechanism to allow construction materials to enter from the Israeli side,” Hasayneh said last week.
The mechanism, he said, would stipulate that owners of destroyed houses be vetted in order to receive building materials.
Homeowners would register with local authorities to obtain a building permit, after which their details would be passed onto the housing ministry, headquartered in Ramallah — the seat of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA).
The ministry would then work with Israeli authorities to get the final go-ahead for Gazans to rebuild their houses.
Mladenov, in a press conference that followed Sunday’s meeting, applauded the efforts of the PM and Palestinian government to smooth the progress of Gaza reconstruction.
The PA has been harshly criticized by Gaza’s governing power Hamas for failing to support Gazans’ recovery from last summer’s war.
Sluggish reconstruction is worsened as Israel limits the amount of building materials allowed into Gaza, fearing that metal and concrete could be used by Palestinian militants to make weapons such as rockets, and to build tunnels.
Critics of the blockade have called for it to be fully lifted to allow reconstruction, warning that an ongoing humanitarian crisis could fuel further conflic. (T/P010/R04)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)