The Palestinian Authority must return to Gaza so war can be avoided and the humanitarian situation there can be addressed, the UN’s Mideast peace envoy told PA President Mahmoud Abbas.After their meeting in Ramallah on Sunday, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov tweeted a photograph of himself with Abbas stating: “Constructive meeting with President #Abbas today on the situation in #Gaza. I am continuing my positive engagement with #Israeli, #Palestinian, #Egyptian counterparts to reduce tension, support return of #PA to Gaza and address all humanitarian challenges.”
Constructive meeting with President #Abbas today on the situation in #Gaza. I am continuing my positive engagement with #Israeli, #Palestinian, #Egyptian counterparts to reduce tension, support return of #PA to Gaza and address all humanitarian challenges. pic.twitter.com/3liTYQXh7y— Nickolay E. MLADENOV (@nmladenov) July 1, 2018
Abbas told Mladenov that the Palestinian leadership wanted unity, Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.It hoped to end the division between the West Bank and Gaza by empowering a conciliation government to operate in Gaza, he said.The president told Mladenov that the UN plays an important role in protecting the Palestinian people, and that the UN Relief and Works Agency was an important part of those efforts.Alongside US and Israeli plans to avert a humanitarian tragedy in Gaza, Mladenov has been talking with regional leaders, including the Egyptians, about a Gaza plan to help the 2 million Palestinian residents who live on about four hours of electricity a day.Among the items on his priority list is an enhanced UN capacity and presence in Gaza to facilitate priority projects including the upgrading and rebuilding the electricity grid and water infrastructure, which includes the creation of another water reservoir.In addition, he wants to see job creation, cash programs and monetary credit for existing businesses.In pursuit of those efforts Mladenov met last week with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. He has also met with Egyptian officials and other concerned parties, his office said.“The United Nations fully supports the unity between Gaza and the West Bank, and the [need for] Palestinian government to take up its responsibilities there,” it said. “The meeting touched upon a lot of details related to what should be done on the ground to help the lives of people, both in the West Bank and Gaza.”The UN and the PA “agreed to continue to coordinate our activities and liaise very closely in the future to make sure that all our efforts support the goals of the government taking up its responsibilities in Gaza and delivering services to people, alleviating the humanitarian situation on the ground, and ultimately avoiding another escalation,” the office said.Over the weekend, Mladenov spoke on the American Jewish Committee podcast “AJC Passport” about Gaza and the reunification of Hamas and Fatah.Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007, when it ousted Fatah in a bloody coup.“Our most immediate challenge today is the situation in Gaza because it is quite desperate, it is very dangerous and if it explodes into another conflict the entire [peace] process will be derailed for a very long time.We need to avoid war in Gaza, to put it bluntly. If we are able to that and return the legitimate Palestinian government back into control of Gaza, then we would have made a substantial step toward resuming talks,” Mladenov said.He added that he would like to see the Quartet, made up of Russia, the UN, the European Union and the United States, become involved in the peace process.The Trump administration is working on a plan, but is doing so alone and without the Quartet partners, Mladenov said.It is also moving forward without any talks with the Palestinians, he added.“Now we have a situation in which one critical party, the US administration is not talking to the Palestinian side, and that means the likelihood of unilateral measures and unilateral actions will increase only to make things worse. That is why the situation now is more precarious,” Mladenov said.
Interview with UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenovn Gaza-West Bank reconciliation. (Tovah Lazaroff)