UN brokers Gaza reconstruction deal

AFP , Tuesday 16 Sep 2014

Gaza Reconstruction
Palestinian children look out from their house, which witnesses said was damaged during the Israeli offensive, in the east of Gaza City September 10, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

The United Nations has brokered an Israeli-Palestinian deal on imports of construction materials to Gaza to ensure they will not be diverted by Hamas, an envoy said Tuesday.

The agreement on monitoring the supply of materials "must get up and running without delay," said Robert Serry, the UN envoy for the Middle East.

The deal, announced by Serry at a UN Security Council meeting, would allow private companies to move in to rebuild Gaza after a recent 50-day Israeli offensive ravaged the enclave and left more than 2,140 Palestinians dead.

It addresses Israel's concerns that cement and other materials could be used to rebuild Hamas tunnels by setting up a UN monitoring mechanism of the imports.

Serry described the destruction in Gaza as "truly shocking," with some 18,000 houses flattened or severely damaged while 65,000 Palestinians remain in UN-run shelters and 100,000 are homeless.

He appealed for the re-opening of crossing points to allow the delivery of materials and emphasized that quick action on reconstruction would provide a "signal of hope to the people of Gaza."

Egypt is due to host a donor conference for Gaza reconstruction on October 12, supported by Norway.

"The crisis in Gaza is far from over and the window of opportunity to address critical needs and stabilize the situation is short," Serry warned.

The envoy appealed for action to "change fundamentally the dynamics in Gaza," warning that "if we do not, Gaza could implode -- or, yet again, explode -- possibly with a new and even more devastating round of violence."

Following weeks of Egyptian-brokered negotiations, Israel and Hamas agreed to halt their fire in Gaza on August 26 after 50 days, their deadliest confrontation in years.

The indirect talks are set to resume mid-September to discuss longer-term issues.

UN diplomats, however, are concerned about Israeli and Palestinian commitment to peace talks, with one Security Council member saying that the sides appeared to be drifting toward a "cold peace."

The council separately has been unable to agree on a draft resolution to shore up the Gaza truce.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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