Qatar pledges Gaza sup­port, UN says en­clave ‘un­liv­able’

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Qatar’s en­voy to Gaza said yes­ter­day Doha was com­mit­ted to fund­ing projects in the Ha­mas-run Pales­tinian en­clave, de­spite pres­sure from Saudi Ara­bia and oth­ers who ac­cuse it of sup­port­ing ex­trem­ism. Mean­while, the Gaza Strip may al­ready be “un­liv­able”, a United Na­tions of­fi­cial warned yes­ter­day, af­ter a decade of Ha­mas rule and a crip­pling Is­raeli block­ade.

Speak­ing in Gaza City along­side a top UN of­fi­cial, Mo­hammed Al-Amadi said Qatar would con­tinue to fund projects in Gaza, de­spite the “siege” im­posed by Saudi Ara­bia and its al­lies in re­cent weeks. “We came to as­sure you we stood and will con­tinue to stand with the be­sieged Pales­tinian peo­ple and we will con­tinue with the re­con­struc­tion process,” he told a news con­fer­ence. “The pol­icy of Qatar is to sup­port the peo­ple and the of­fi­cial govern­ment. We do not sup­port Ha­mas, we sup­port Ha­mas as a part of the Pales­tinian peo­ple.”

On June 5, Saudi Ara­bia and its al­lies sev­ered all diplo­matic ties with Qatar, ac­cus­ing the gas-rich state of bankrolling “ex­trem­ist” groups, in­clud­ing Ha­mas. Is­lamist move­ment Ha­mas has ruled Gaza since 2007 but is con­sid­ered a ter­ror­ist group by the United States, Euro­pean Union and Is­rael. The of­fi­cial Pales­tinian govern­ment is based in the Is­raeli-oc­cu­pied West Bank and led by Ha­mas’ ri­vals Fatah.

Qatar pledged $1 bil­lion to re­con­struct Gaza af­ter the 2014 war with Is­rael, the largest sin­gle pledge. Speak­ing along­side Amadi, Nick­o­lay Mlade­nov, UN en­voy for the Mid­dle East, thanked Qatar for the “com­mit­ments you have shown over many years to as­sist the peo­ple of Gaza.”

Robert Piper, the UN’s top hu­man­i­tar­ian of­fi­cial in the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries, told AFP in an in­ter­view to mark a new re­port on liv­ing con­di­tions in Gaza all the “in­di­ca­tors are go­ing in the wrong di­rec­tion”. “We pre­dicted some years ago that Gaza would fast be­come un­liv­able on a host of in­di­ca­tors and that dead­line is ac­tu­ally ap­proach­ing even faster than we pre­dicted - from health ac­cess, to en­ergy to wa­ter,” he said.

A 2012 UN re­port pre­dicted the Pales­tinian en­clave would be “un­liv­able” by 2020 if noth­ing was done to ease the block­ade. Piper pointed out that power sup­plies were down to as lit­tle as two hours a day in Gaza, where med­i­cal care had been slashed and youth un­em­ploy­ment was over 60 per­cent. In such cir­cum­stances “for most of us that un­liv­abil­ity point has al­ready been passed”, he said. “And yet some­how the Gazans sol­dier on.”

Ha­mas seized Gaza from sec­u­lar Pales­tinian pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas’s forces in June 2007, lead­ing Is­rael to im­pose a crip­pling block­ade which crit­ics say pun­ishes all of the two mil­lion res­i­dents in­dis­crim­i­nately. Since 2013 Egypt, the only other coun­try with which Gaza shares a bor­der, has largely closed off its cross­ing and de­stroyed hun­dreds of smug­gling tun­nels that pro­vided a vi­tal life­line for the econ­omy while also al­legedly be­ing used by Ha­mas to bring in weapons. — Agen­cies


GAZA: UN Spe­cial Co­or­di­na­tor for the United Na­tions for the peace process in the Mid­dle East Niko­lay Mlade­nov (left) shakes hands with Qatar’s Am­bas­sador to Gaza Mo­hammed Al-Emadi fol­low­ing a press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day.

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