EU hosts talks to strengthen Palestinian Authority for Gaza

EU hosts talks to strengthen Palestinian Authority for Gaza
The EU hosted a talk with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa to build up the Palestine Authority to take over Gaza from Hamas.
3 min read
Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Mustafa was invited by EU's Josep Borell to strengthen the Palestinian Authority [GETTY]

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Sunday hosted Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Mustafa for international talks on building up the Palestinian Authority to take over Gaza rule from Hamas eventually.

Borrell said a "strong" Palestinian Authority is needed to bring peace in the Middle East just before going into the meeting with Mustafa.

The talks were being held as efforts to find a Gaza truce and a hostage-release deal were narrowing.

They also came just before Norway, which was hosting the Brussels meeting, was on Tuesday to recognise the State of Palestine, along with Spain and Ireland, to Israel's fury.

While the United States is using its influence to halt the Gaza war, moves are starting to take place to try to establish conditions to make for lasting peace.

A key requisite for that is the removal of Hamas as Gaza's ruler. The only viable option diplomats have arrived at is to bolster Mustafa's Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank so that it can take charge of Gaza.

Israel's war on Gaza has killed at least 35,984 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

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"A functional Palestinian Authority is in Israel's interest too, because to make peace, we need a strong Palestinian Authority, not a weaker one," Borrell said.

Plea for funds

Mustafa said Sunday's meeting was "a very important opportunity" for the Palestinian Authority to outline its priorities and plans.

He said the "first priority" was to support Palestinians in Gaza, primarily through a ceasefire, and then the "rebuilding the institutions of the Palestinian Authority" in that territory, which Hamas seized control of in 2007.

He also called on international partners to press Israel to release Palestinian Authority funds so "we will be ready to reform our institutions...and hopefully together sustain our efforts towards statehood and peace for the region".

The Brussels meeting, which focused on international aid, was chaired by Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide. His country played a key role in the 1993 Oslo Accords, which established a series of arrangements between the Palestinians and Israel.

"We need to make sure that the Palestinian Authority... has to be able to survive to be strengthened, to improve its capacity to deliver services, to reform, and also to plan for a future return to Gaza," Barth Eide said.

Israel's fury

Represented at the talks, alongside the EU, Norway and the Palestinian Authority, were Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations.

Australia, Britain, Canada and Japan also took part.

Before the talks, Mustafa held a separate news conference with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albare to thank him for his country's announcement that it recognised Palestinian statehood.

The move by the three European nations addresses "the injustice that has been inflicted on the Palestinian people for decades," Mustafa said, adding: "We want to have every country in Europe to do the same."

Later Sunday, Mustafa was to have further talks with Borrell, Barth Eide and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan.

On Monday, he will meet again in Brussels with the Spanish, Norwegian, and Irish ministers, and on Wednesday, he will be in Spain.

Israel has warned Spain, Norway and Ireland that ties with them will face "serious consequences" for their announced recognition of a Palestinian state.

A majority of UN member countries recognise Palestinian statehood. European countries are split on the issue.

Spain, Norway and Italy will join EU nations Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden in recognising the State of Palestine.