By Prathana Mitra
The White House hosted 19 nations to discuss the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Authority’s decision to boycott the conference held on Tuesday in Washington, DC comes after US President Donald Trump decided to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
Israel participated in the conference alongside representatives from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as several European nations.
Home to over two million people, the Gaza Strip has undergone massive water, electricity and healthcare shortages due to the Israeli blockade on Gaza’s land, air and sea since 2007.
Palestine refuses to be another “US aid project”
In January, Trump announced that the US would be cutting $65 million out of a $125 million aid package for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).
Angered by the complete overhaul of years of US policy on Palestine, sources representing the country’s interests spoke to Al Jazeera about how the Trump administration appears to want to erase the Palestinian cause and turn it into “an aid project” beneath all its claims to “fix Gaza” and restore peace in the region.
Does the US really want to fix Gaza?
While senior US administrators said the conference will be integral to any future peace proceedings, and there are reports of a Middle East peace plan in the works, officials did not address or refer to it during the proceedings. Officials instead focused on discussing Gaza’s health challenges including its chronic contaminated water and electricity problem, as well as poverty and food security problems, which they claimed could be handled without assistance from the Palestinian Authority.
Is the US a “dishonest broker”?
Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt—both key supporters of Israeli right-wing policies against Palestinians—maintained that multi-nation humanitarian and reconstruction effort was necessary to fix Gaza and bring about a peace agreement.
In his opening remarks, Greenblatt blamed Palestinian group Hamas, which governs Gaza, saying it is “profoundly unfit” to govern the territory.
Asmaa al-Ghoul, a Gaza-based journalist known for her writings about the civil rights violations in Gaza, said she thinks the US has “done nothing” for Gaza.
“The US has done nothing in the past besides place Hamas on a global terror list, which only complicated things for the strip further,” she said in an interview with Al Jazeera.
Sami Akeelh, an academic researcher, also said he thinks the conference is merely a “front” to “serve Israel’s interests.”
“They (United States) wants to remove blame from Israel regarding the deteriorating conditions ..in Gaza,” Akeelh added.
Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian political parties signed a reconciliation agreement in October 2017, ending a decade of division that may be endangered by Tuesday’s conference.
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