Today, at the international Gaza donors conference in Cairo, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that international support must be directed at beginning Israeli-Palestinian talks and accomplishing the two state solution. Estonia is contributing to the reconstruction of Gaza following the recent conflict through the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Foreign Minister Paet stated that Israel and the Palestinian Authority must do everything possible, so that the temporary ceasefire signed in August becomes permanent. "The conflict which was reignited this summer is a tragic reminder of how fragile the situation in the Middle East is without lasting peace," the Foreign Minister said.
According to Paet, the conflict between Israel and Hamas, which began again this past summer, influenced almost all the families in Gaza. "Nearly 2,200 Palestinians were killed, the homes of more than a quarter of the population of Gaza are in ruins. The production of agriculture, trade and industry have stalled and the infrastructure has been devastated," Foreign Minister Paet said. "Gaza residents need the support of the international community in order to restore decent living conditions as quickly as possible," Paet emphasized, highlighting the need for assistance in accommodating homeless people and providing children with the opportunity to continue receiving education.
Paet stated that it is important for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to find a way to solve the most essential problems with the support of the international community."It is realistic only if the two sides can reach an agreement through negotiations regarding security, borders and other key issues," he added.
Paet said that Estonia has previously supported alleviating the humanitarian situation in Gaza through the UN children's fund UNICEF and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). "The necessity of aid to alleviate the situation is very great," he added. The Palestinian Authority has drawn up the timeline to reconstruct Gaza, the implementation of which will cost approximately 4 billion dollars. The majority of the funding will go towards finding new accommodation for the 100,000 people left homeless as a result of the conflict.
Estonia is allocating 200 000 euros for the reconstruction of Gaza through the UN Palestinian refugee aid organisation.
Since 1950, UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) has been the representative of Palestinian refugees and their facilitator in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories. Aid provided by the organization includes food aid, health and education and also ensuring and improving infrastructure. UNRWA operations depend almost entirely on voluntary donations.
The conference was held in Cairo and was co-sponsored by Egypt and Norway. Participants included the U.S., European and Arab Foreign Ministers.