We are deeply concerned about the military escalation in Gaza. We condemn the rocket fire from Gaza towards Israel. All parties must show restraint and avoid provocations in order to prevent further escalation of violence. It is with great concern that we have observed recent attempts to delay and undermine the speedy implementation of the UN package of humanitarian interventions to Gaza. Swift and unimpeded implementation of this package is important for the people of Gaza, and for regional stability.
Norway chaired a ministerial meeting of the international donor group to Palestine, the AHLC, in New York on 27 September. The meeting welcomed the UN humanitarian package to Gaza, and called for its implementation as a matter of urgency, in coordination with the PA. Norway strongly supports these efforts, and will provide additional assistance to the UN.
Gaza is on the brink of economic, humanitarian and social collapse. There is an urgent need for improved access to clean water and energy, for job creation, and for freer movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza. Norway will continue to work closely with the UN, the EU and key donors to ensure full implementation of all elements of the humanitarian package. To succeed with these joint endeavours, we urge all parties to do their utmost to support the international efforts. In this regard, it is crucial that the PLO cooperates with the UN and the international community.
Hamas bears a major share of the responsibility for the dire situation in Gaza, and has to stop its provocations and politicking. It is the PA and the international community, not Hamas, that are providing assistance to the people of Gaza. Furthermore, the PA should reinstate its governance in Gaza and reunite Palestine under one authority.
In the meantime, however, it is counter-productive to stop supporting Gaza financially and thus further impoverish the population. Israel, for its part, needs to restart fuel supplies to Gaza, expand the fishing zone, and lift the system of extensive restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza.
The AHLC meeting also called for urgent action to mitigate the risks to the Palestinian economy. A combination of major reductions in donor contributions, significant revenue losses due to fiscal leakages, and continued restrictions on Palestinian access and movement has led to a serious decline in the Palestinian economy in 2018. There is a risk of a financial breakdown next year, unless we take concerted action to address the fiscal issues, including between the PA and Israel. A viable Palestinian economy is a vital precondition for the two-state solution. Donors must increase their contributions.
UNRWA remains indispensable. The organization provides essential services to the most vulnerable Palestine refugees and contributes to regional stability. It is vital that donors remain committed to supporting UNRWA.
Recent developments in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, including the decision to demolish the village Khan al-Ahmar, are cause for great concern. The location of Khan al-Ahmar is of strategic importance for preserving the contiguity of a future Palestinian state.
Norway has been a consistent partner for promoting peace and security in the Middle East for decades. Our long-standing commitment to helping to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on our firm support for a negotiated two-state solution, even though today the hurdles seem more difficult to overcome than ever before.