Source: www.abc.net.au, Flags of Palestine and Israel
Although the solution for a long-term ceasefire has not been confirmed at present, the issue of governance in the post-war Gaza Strip has attracted growing attention, with opinions on the matter widely divided.
This article is structured as a brief analysis of the topic of reconstruction and governance in Gaza, being divided into three parts. The first is the key actors’ views, the second is the persistent problem and the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism and the third is the necessary conditions for Gaza reconstruction and governance.
The key actors’ views
Hamas said the future of the Gaza Strip cannot be without Hamas
On December 13, 2023, Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas’s Politburo, said in a televised address that Hamas was willing to discuss any idea or initiative that could end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that Hamas was open to ending the current conflict. But the future arrangements in the Gaza Strip cannot be made without Hamas’s involvement.
Israel: Not Accepting the “Two-State Solution”
On the other hand, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said in a press conference in Tel Aviv on November 18, 2023, that Israel would retain an “open security presence” in the Gaza Strip and ruled out a takeover of the Gaza Strip by the Palestinian National Authority dominated by the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah). This indicated that Israel may expand its occupation of the Palestinian territories.
On December 13, 2023, Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Tzipi Hotovely, unequivocally said “no” to the two-state solution. “The Oslo model failed on October 7th and we need to build a new one,” Hotovely said. And she believed that “the two-state solution is a solution that has never worked”.
US: Governance in the Gaza Strip should be dominated by Palestinians
On November 8, 2023, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken put forward the most detailed vision of the US side to date on how to manage and govern the Gaza Strip once the new round of Palestinian-Israeli conflict ends. According to this vision, the governance of the Gaza Strip should be dominated by the Palestinians, and Gaza should be unified with the West Bank and governed by the Palestinian National Authority.
Therefore, the US government’s plan for the post-war Gaza Strip is completely different from that of the Israeli side, and this constitutes the biggest difference between the two sides. The US side “will not allow Israel to reoccupy the Gaza Strip or further shrink the already small Palestinian territory” and hopes that the Palestinian National Authority will return to the Gaza Strip and resume peace talks with Israel on the issue of Palestinian statehood.
Palestinian Prime Minister: The US should take action to promote the two-state solution
On December 14, 2023, Palestinian Prime Minister Ashtiyah said in an interview that the United States had always paid lip service to the “two-state solution”, but had not put it into practice. The US should urge Israel to cease the war. Ashtiyah also expressed regret over the US veto of the UN Security Council draft resolution on a humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.
Gulf Countries and NGOs represented by the UN
The Gulf countries played an important role in every Gaza reconstruction. Early in 2009, the GCC countries have established the “Cooperation Council Programme for the Reconstruction of Gaza” and pledged within the framework of this programme an amount of $1,646,000,000 billion (GCC, 2023.12). Among the Gulf countries, Qatar has been the most helpful in Gaza reconstruction, which established Committee for Reconstruction of Gaza in 2012 and provided $1.3 billion in aid over the period 2012-2021 (ACW, 2021.6).
NGOs, represented by the United Nations, also played an important role in every Gaza reconstruction. Among the agencies sent by the United Nations, the UNRWA plays the most central role in the reconstruction and governance of Gaza. In the reconstruction of Gaza in 2021, UNRWA helped about 5.7 million Palestine Refugees achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provided in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance (UN News, 2021.8).
Chinese Foreign Minister: Dialogue and negotiation are the fundamental way to resolve contradictions
However, on December 29, 2023, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss the situation between Palestine and Israel. In his speech, the representative of the Chinese side called for the establishment of relevant mechanisms as soon as possible to ensure the safe and unhindered access of sufficient humanitarian supplies to Gaza, and supported the early resumption of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
China called on both sides to reinvigorate the political prospects of the two-state solution with greater determination. Because Israel established its own state for a long time, the Jewish nation is no longer in displacement. But the Palestinian people’s right to statehood, survival, and return have been ignored for a long time. This is the crux of the repeated turbulence in the Palestinian-Israeli situation. Fairness and justice on the Palestinian question is irreplaceable for the two-state solution.
As such, China proposed to convene an international peace conference on a larger scale, with greater effectiveness, while reiterating its support for Palestine in becoming a full member of the United Nations.
The international community generally believes that the only way to resolve the question of Palestine lies in the implementation of the two-state solution
Overall, the two-state solution regards the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian State based on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, so as to fundamentally realize the peaceful coexistence of Palestine and Israel, the harmonious coexistence of the Arab and Jewish peoples, and the lasting peace in the Middle East.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced on December 26th that he had appointed Sigrid Kag, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the Netherlands, as the Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for the Gaza Strip.
In accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2720 adopted on December 22, 2023, Kag will be responsible for facilitating, coordinating, monitoring and verifying humanitarian relief supplies to the Gaza Strip and establishing a UN mechanism to expedite the delivery of humanitarian relief supplies to the Gaza Strip through non-conflict routes.
The persistent problem and the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM)
Ever since the bilateral conflicts started, the obstruction of humanitarian access has been a key problem in the reconstruction of Gaza. The blockade of Gaza by air, land and sea has made it difficult for goods, especially reconstruction materials, to enter Gaza since 2007. This has resulted in the transportation of goods through underground tunnels for a long period of time until 2014. This problem of the obstruction persists to this day.
In 2014, the governments of Israel and Palestine, with the participation of the United Nations, had agreed on the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, but once the GRM had been implemented, new problems had arisen. After the GRM was realized, supplies were able to enter Gaza through the crossings and made possible the reconstruction of large-scale infrastructure. However, it was designed with a lengthy project assessment process, which could take months to pass a project, leading to an extremely low efficiency.
Conditions necessary for the reconstruction and long-term governance of Gaza after the current Gaza war
Despite the difficulty of reaching the Gulf countries’ demand of a two-state solution, the participation of the Gulf countries in reconstruction is currently more important than in the past. On the one hand, the GRM established in 2014 is unable to meet the needs of large-scale reconstruction after the end of the current war, and it can only be solved through a more effective mechanism led by neighboring Gulf countries; while on the other hand, countries including Saudi Arabia and the UAE have joined the BRICS organization, and they are able to call for BRICS countries to provide support for the reconstruction of Gaza through this platform.
Moreover, long-term effective regional security mechanisms are necessary for regional governance. For a long time, the absence of a stable regional security mechanism for the entire region, with only security agreements between the two actors, has been one of the reasons for instability in the region. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan showed willingness to initiate security mechanisms in this region (Daily Sabah, 2023.10). In addition, the Gulf countries began to reconcile their past conflicts in 2023, thus enabling them to develop a role in future regional governance.
However, on the issue of reconstruction and governance in Gaza, there are significant differences of opinion. The reconstruction and governance of Gaza needs to take into account political, economic, social, and major country interests, as well as the efforts and long-term investment of many parties. It is necessary to end the war through negotiation on the basis of the two-state solution, so that people will no longer be subjected to war and children can grow up safely and healthily.
Nonetheless, on the one hand, an analysis of the actors involved in reconstruction and governance reveals that the Gulf countries and NGOs play an important role in reconstruction and governance in the region. On the other hand, analyzing the problems of reconstruction and governance, although the GRM has alleviated the problem of obstruction of humanitarian access, it has also created new ones. For future post-war reconstruction and governance, the participation of the Gulf countries is needed to establish a new reconstruction mechanism to replace the GRM and to call on other countries to participate in the reconstruction, and moreover, a regional security mechanism is also needed to avoid the recurrence of war.
Disclaimer. The views and opinions expressed in this analysis are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of MEPEI. Any content provided by our authors is of their opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.
About the author:
Mrs. Jun Qiao is student at Anhui University, China and Mr. Mingxuan Huang is student, Yunnan University, China. They are interns at MEPEI.