Letter to UNSCO

 26 November 2015

From: Palestinian Civil Society Organizations

To: Nickolay Mladenov, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process
Dear Mr. Mladenov,
We, the undersigned Palestinian civil society organizations, are sending this letter to express concern over the slow pace of the reconstruction of Gaza, and kindly request that you publish the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM) agreement and make it accessible to the public. We expect full transparency of all information and documents regarding this critical mechanism affecting our lives. Such transparency is necessary in order for us, the affected, to also participate in assessing the role of the GRM and its contribution to the reconstruction of Gaza.
Since its creation in September 2014, the GRM agreement has not been publicized and Palestinians have been left without details or timelines, which in fact conflicts with the principles of transparency and accountability as well as fundamental human rights and humanitarian principles. Palestinians, particularly those affected, have a right to access the specifics and details of the agreement.
As stated in the GRM factsheet that was released by UNSCO, the GRM was set up as a „temporary agreement‟ to enable the reconstruction of Gaza. Based on that information, we would like to know when the “temporary” timeframe is expected to end and what the proposed course of action is after its expiration. We would also like to know if the proper due diligence measures have been applied in order to evaluate the risks involved in the implementation of the mechanism as to whether it does harm to or violates the human rights of Palestinians in Gaza. Furthermore, it is important for us to be aware of
the indicators that are being used to monitor the efficiency of the mechanism. We are aware that the Palestinian Authority, as co-signer of the agreement and sharer of the responsibility, should take such measures, however, UNSCO is taking a lead role in managing and facilitating the GRM agreement, and hence as a UN agency we expect it to ensure that the above measures are in place.
The factsheet also stated that the mechanism is “an important step towards the objective of lifting all remaining closures”, however, thus far the GRM has been counter-productive. As per information collected from the field, the GRM plan for monitoring the import, storage and sale of building materials, entailed granting Israel the approval power over all applications, access to footage of storage facilities, and access to the data base of owners of damaged/demolished houses, which includes confidential information. So rather than ease and eventually end the siege, the GRM entrenches and institutionalizes the blockade and perpetuates the status quo by reinforcing Israel‟s control over the Gaza Strip. There is a need to lift the closure now, allow people to rebuild their homes, and access justice and dignity.
Therefore, we call upon the UN to rethink its strategy from one of working around the blockade to one which holds Israel accountable for the crisis in Gaza and pressures it to immediately and completely lift the blockade. Despite uncertainty about the feasibility and practicality of conducting the reconstruction under the illegal blockade; we kindly reiterate our request to publicize the GRM agreement and provide answers to the questions and concerns we raised above.
Sincerely yours,
1. BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
2. Palestinian Medical Relief Society
3. The Agricultural Development Association (PARC)
4. Union of Agricultural Work committees
5. Arab Center for Agricultural Development
6. The Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN)
7. Palestinian Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations Network
8. The Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center
9. Palestinian Trade Center –PALTRADE
10. MA’AN Development Center
11. Gaza Community Mental Health Programme
12. Earth & Human Center for Research and Studies
13. Palestinian Association For Development and Reconstruction – PADR
14. Palestinian Women’s Affairs
15. Palestinian Environmental Friends Association
16. The Palestinian Development Women Studies Association
17. The National Society for Democracy and Law
18. Hadaf Center for Human Rights
19. Al Ataa' Charitable Society
20. Palestinian Farmers Association
21. El-Wafa Medical Rehabilitation Society
22. Al-Karmel culture and Social Development Association
23. Union of Health Care Committees
24. Basma for Culture and Arts
25. Rural Women's Development Society
26. Mother Charitable Association for Development
27. Filastiniyat
28. Association Of Visually Impaired Graduates League