The AHLC, the main policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Palestinians, convened in Brussels on 1/31 for an emergency session to discuss “measures to speed up efforts that can underpin a negotiated two-state solution” and the need to “enable the PA to execute full control over Gaza,” according to an EU press release announcing the meeting on 1/10. EU foreign policy chief Mogherini and Norwegian foreign minister Ine Eriksen Søreide reportedly called the meeting specifically in response to U.S. president Trump’s decision to slash aid to the Palestinians (see “The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict” above). At the meeting, Mogherini called for a multilateral approach to the peace process. “Nothing without the U.S., nothing with the U.S. alone,” she said. The Israeli representatives at the meeting presented a plan worth $1 billion, including the construction of a desalination plant, a natural gas pipeline, and a variety of other infrastructure projects, purportedly to help ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. They offered to provide technology and expertise for these projects, but not funding. The Israelis also offered to be more flexible about permitting the import of so-called dualuse construction materials into Gaza (they typically bar the entrance of such materials, claiming that Hamas diverts them for military purposes). Also at the meeting, Mogherini announced a new €42.5 million (approximately $52.2 million) aid package, including money for projects that “preserve the Palestinian character of [Jerusalem].”
Both before and after the AHLC meeting, there was a steady trickle of new aid announcements. Turkey was particularly active this quarter, donating $10 million (12/14) to Palestinian social and economic development projects and another $10 million (1/31) directly to the PA. The EU pledged (1/24) €11.28 million (approximately $13.8 million) to help with the PA’s quarterly payments to impoverished families in the West Bank and Gaza; and announced (2/2) another €317,000 (approximately $389,500) in PA agricultural aid to farmers and farming businesses. The Irish government pledged (11/28) €15 million (approximately $18.4 million) to support education in the oPt, and Denmark provided €2 million (approximately $2.45 million) to fund nine social infrastructure projects in Area C of the West Bank. In partnership with the EU, the Japanese government earmarked (12/18) more than €154,000 (approximately $189,000) to support the Palestinian House of Soap Company, operating in Jericho’s agro-industrial park. According to a UN press release, Robert Piper, the UN coordinator for humanitarian aid and development activities, released (12/9) $2.2 million to cover “urgent needs” in Gaza.
There were also a number of new pledges of support for Palestinian refugees via UNRWA. Kuwait contributed $5.9 million (11/27 and 2/5) to support the agency’s programs in Syria. South Korea transferred (11/27) $500,000 for programs helping Palestinian refugees from Syria that had recently fled to Jordan. Austria contributed (12/15) €1 million (approximately $1.2 million) to help UNRWA cover emergency needs in Gaza. Spain disbursed (12/18) €2 million (approximately $2.4 million) to support the agency’s human development programs across the Middle East. Germany signed two new agreements (12/8 and 12/13) pledging €23.15 million (approximately $28.4 million) to support reconstruction efforts and the construction of two new schools in Gaza. The EU announced two new contributions: €10.5 million (12/22; approximately $12.9 million) to support general agency programs and €3 million (2/8; approximately $3.7 million) in response to the agency’s 2017 Syria emergency appeal. Finally, Iceland made a new multiyear commitment to support UNRWA through 2021. Under the deal, announced 2/7, Iceland’s annual contribution was set to increase to approximately $250,000, up from approximately $200,000.