An emergency meeting of key donors to Gaza will meet in Brussels Thursday to discuss ways to alleviate the humanitarian situation and reduce the risk of conflict.
The 15-member Ad Hoc Liaison Committee will discuss the severe humanitarian and economic challenges within Gaza, the impact of the United States decision to freeze half its contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the heightened risk of conflict.
Israel will present a $1 billion plan to improve the situation in Gaza at the meeting. The plan is expected to center on Israeli assistance on major infrastructure projects, including improving Gaza’s desalination plants, electricity lines, gas pipelines, and upgrading the Erez industrial park on the Israeli border.
Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and the United States Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt will both attend the meeting, the first time that a senior U.S. official has met with a Palestinian counterpart since President Trump’s Jerusalem announcement in December.
Speaking at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Israel yesterday, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov said that “as we meet tomorrow we must do what we can to preserve hope to the people of Gaza.” Mladenov also stressed that “returning Gaza to PA control is critical – to Israel’s security, to Egypt’s security and to people of Gaza”.
“We’re in the midst of a major humanitarian crisis – we’re on the verge of a total system failure, collapse of the economy. As we meet tomorrow we must preserve hope for the people of Gaza,” he continued.
U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt tweeted that he “spoke with EU Heads of Mission & reps from Norway, Switzerland, Canada, & Australia to Israel” and reiterated that the U.S. “will work together with our friends and allies in Europe & beyond to advance peace”.
More missiles have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel since the U.S. Jerusalem announcement in December than in the entire period since the end of Operation Protective Edge in Summer 2014.
As a recent BICOM briefing on the increased risk of conflict in Gaza outlined, the increased pace of Israel’s detection and destruction of Hamas’s tunnel network by Israel may lead Hamas to attempt to use the remaining tunnels to attack Israel before its expensive military asset is completely destroyed.