UN official: Situation in Gaza threatens prospects for peace process

By Xinhua

United Nations : The current situation in Gaza is not sustainable and is extremely damaging to the prospects for the current peace process, said UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes on Tuesday.

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“I found conditions for the people of Gaza grim and miserable, and far from ‘normal,'” said Holmes in a briefing to the UN Security Council on his recent visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel.

Eight months of severe restrictions on the movement of goods and people following the Hamas take-over in June 2007 had taken a heavy toll, coming on top of years of difficulty and economic decline, he said.

Only about 10 percent of what had gone into Gaza in January 2007 was allowed to enter in January 2008, he said.

“Looking at these deteriorating realities on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as in Sderot, the disconnect between those realities and the hopes and aims of continuing peace talks seemed almost total,” he said.

Unless that chasm was bridged quickly, and the humanitarian indicators began to rise and create some hope for the future, the chances of success in the peace talks might be fatally undermined, no matter how great the sincerity and ingenuity of all concerned, he added.

Noting Israel’s “legitimate security concerns,” Holmes stressed that security could not “override all other concerns or justify so much damage to ordinary people’s livelihoods and infringements of their human dignity and human rights.”

Israel had obligations towards the Palestinian population under occupation, he said, calling on the Israeli authorities to begin implementing their commitments to ease “at least some of the restrictions.”