UN official blames Palestinians, Israelis equally for impeding Gaza reconstruction

Lynn Pascoe, UN's under-secretary general for political affairs, finds the slow progress toward reconstruction "deeply frustrating."

Gaza Smoke 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Gaza Smoke 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
UN officials in New York and Jerusalem said Monday they were frustrated by the continued lack of access to Gaza for reconstruction in the wake of last winter's Operation Cast Lead. Lynn Pascoe, the UN's under-secretary general for political affairs, said he found the slow progress toward reconstruction "deeply frustrating" and blamed the situation equally on the absence of progress toward political reconciliation among Palestinian factions and on Israel's refusal to lift border restrictions. In a routine briefing to the Security Council, Pascoe said UN agencies in the region were preparing to provide support to the Palestinians "once conditions allow it," but insisted that progress would require "substantial easing by Israel" of the border closures. "Broader humanitarian assistance and early recovery is impossible without Israel providing adequate entry of fuel, cash, and materials needed for the repairs of schools, clinics, sanitation networks and shelters," Pascoe said. His comments were echoed by Richard Miron, a spokesman for the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process in Jerusalem, who said the UN is "frustrated we can't get material in, in order to begin the job" of reconstruction. Pascoe also called attention to the situation in the West Bank, where an April 2 attack by an axe-wielding Palestinian left an Israeli teenager dead. Pascoe sharply criticized Israel for not halting the construction of a road in Efrat and other ongoing housing projects abutting East Jerusalem. "As we have said repeatedly, settlement activity runs contrary to the basis of the two-state solution and must be frozen," Pascoe said in his statement.