Palestinians reject 'stakeholder' US meeting

Palestinians reject 'stakeholder' US meeting
The White House extended an invitation to the Palestinian Authority as the humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip worsen.
3 min read
11 March, 2018
A 'political not humanitarian' solution is needed, slammed the PA
An invitation by the White House to attend a Gaza "stakeholders" summit next week was rejected by the Palestinian Authority, a senior official of the governing body said.

Ahmad Majdalani told the Voice of Palestine radio on Friday that the PA would not attend the meeting, saying that the issue in Gaza was "political par excellence".

"The United States is well aware that the real cause of the tragedy of the Gaza Strip is the unjust Israeli siege. What is needed is a political solution to this issue, not a humanitarian," he said.

The meeting on March 13 was set to be a brainstorming session devoted to solving the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, said Jason Greenblatt, an assistant to the American President Donald Trump, and to improving life in the besieged enclave.

"In response to the burgeoning humanitarian situation in Gaza, key countries and stakeholders are preparing to act: There was a meeting in Cairo on Thursday, and there will be a brainstorming session at the White House next week to find real solutions to the problems that Hamas has caused," Greenblatt wrote on Thursday in an op-ed in The Washington Post.

Gaza's sole electricity plant was powered down two weeks ago because of a lack of fuel, officials said, amid growing concerns over worsening humanitarian conditions in the coastal enclave.

The closure of the plant, which normally provides around a fifth of Gaza's electricity, will only exacerbate an already critical power shortage.

Nearly two million people live in Gaza and receive only four hours of electricity a day. Hospitals and other vital services rely on private generators provided by the United Nations, who warn Gaza hospitals are on the "verge of disaster" as fuel for emergency generators run out.

Key services have been suspended in recent weeks in three hospitals and 16 medical centres as crippling fuel shortages meant generators were unable to function, said the health ministry in Gaza.

After an emergency UN appeal, the UAE pledged $2 million to Gaza.

The internationally recognised Palestinian government, based in the West Bank and run by Hamas's longtime rivals Fatah, has accused the Islamists of exaggerating the problem, saying fuel and funding have been provided.

Hamas previously accused the PA of deliberately failing to fulfil its fuel needs.

"We hold the government responsible for this collapse and its consequences and call upon all Palestinians to confront this deliberate abandonment of Gaza and its people," a Hamas spokesman said.

Israel has maintained a crippling siege of the Gaza Strip for more than a decade which it says is necessary to isolate Hamas, with whom it has fought three wars since 2008.

The crippling blockade of the besieged enclave has led to chronic energy and medication shortages, and tightening restrictions on exit permits for Gazans in need of medical care outside of the territory pose critical health risks.

Human rights groups say it amounts to collective punishment of Gaza's two million residents.