Palestinians reject US invitation to Gaza 'stakeholder' summit

Palestinian Authority official says a political solution is needed to the issue, not a humanitarian one.

    Reportedly 1,000 Palestinians have died as a result of the ongoing Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave [Reuters]
    Reportedly 1,000 Palestinians have died as a result of the ongoing Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave [Reuters]

    The Palestinian Authority (PA) has rejected an invitation by the White House to attend a Gaza "stakeholders" summit next week, a senior official of the self-government body said. 

    Ahmad Majdalani told the Voice of Palestine radio on Friday that the PA would not attend the meeting, saying that the issue in Gaza was "political par excellence".

    "The United States is well aware that the real cause of the tragedy of the Gaza Strip is the unjust Israeli siege. What is needed is a political solution to this issue, not a humanitarian," he said.

    Jason Greenblatt, an assistant to President Donald Trump, said that the meeting on March 13 will be a brainstorming session devoted to solving the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and to improving life in the besieged enclave.

    "In response to the burgeoning humanitarian situation in Gaza, key countries and stakeholders are preparing to act: There was a meeting in Cairo on Thursday, and there will be a brainstorming session at the White House next week to find real solutions to the problems that Hamas has caused," Greenblatt wrote on Thursday in an op-ed in The Washington Post.

    More 1,000 dead

    The Gaza Strip's collective of charitable organisations recently said more than 1,000 Palestinians have died as a result of the ongoing Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave. 

    The coordinator of the organisations, Ahmad al-Kurd, said: "Out of the 1,000 or so victims of the blockade, 450 died as a result of the collapse of the health situation in Gaza, such as the lack of medical supplies and the crisis of medical referrals for outside treatment."

    Gaza residents continue to face a desperate situation because of the blockade with water and electricity shortages, as well as a lack of medicines and doctors unable to perform surgeries. 

    The Israeli blockade of the occupied Gaza Strip, in its current form, has been in place since June 2007, when Israel imposed a land, sea and air blockade on the area after Hamas won elections in the enclave a year earlier.

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    Israel controls Gaza's airspace and territorial waters, as well as two of the three border crossing points; the third is controlled by Egypt.

    Movement of people in and out of the Gaza Strip takes place through the Erez (known to Palestinians as Beit Hanoun) crossing with Israel, and the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

    Both Israel and Egypt have kept their borders largely shut and are responsible for further deteriorating the already-weakened economic and humanitarian situations.

    Israel allows passage through the Erez crossing only in "exceptional humanitarian cases, with an emphasis on urgent medical cases".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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