Quartet Representative Tony Blair, along with his team of advisers in Jerusalem, aims to facilitate Palestinian economic growth, improved security and institutional development, so that the political negotiating process can take place in an environment of increased confidence and trust. Israelis, Palestinians and their political leaders need to accept the need for a peace agreement, recognise the economic and social potential that peace can deliver real and lasting change, rather than violence. They also need to accept that a peace agreement really is possible.
To help build this confidence and trust, the OQR focuses on “transformative change from the ground up”. Our main areas of focus include:
Helping Palestinian economic and social development
This means helping deliver: budget support to the Palestinian Authority; Palestinian infrastructure and economic projects such as industrial parks and affordable housing; the opening up of crossing points between Israel and the West Bank and Jordan and the West Bank to trade; increased Arab-Israeli investment; a reinvigorated tourism sector; increasing numbers of work permits for Palestinians in Israel; proposals for affordable housing; radio spectrum bandwidth for the Palestinian mobile telephony sector; expedited visas for non-Palestinian Arab business people; predictable and sufficient injections of cash into the Gaza banking sector;
Lifting Movement and Access restrictions
The OQR works to improve the flow of people, traffic and goods through key checkpoints, and have other checkpoints removed, aiming for freer movement throughout the West Bank. There have been recent improvements in some urban areas in the West Bank, with some checkpoints having been removed, opened or had their opening hours extended. This has allowed Palestinians greater freedom of movement and should feed through to improvements in the local economy. Much more can be done to realise the potential for an integrated Palestinian economy, both locally and with the outside world;
Israel retains full security and civil control in what’s called “Area C”, land comprising 60 percent of the territory in the West Bank - under the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement reached in 1995, the West Bank was divided into Areas A, B and C, with specific administrative and security responsibilities assigned to the Palestinian and Israeli authorities in each. The Government of Israel (GoI) must therefore approve any proposed economic development in Area C. Palestinians may not develop Area C, nor make plans to do so, without the GoI’s permission. Demolitions of unauthorised structures continue, as does GoI expropriation of land. Palestinian access to agricultural land is severely restricted. Opportunities to develop tourism on the Dead Sea coast cannot be exploited. The Office of the Quartet Representative makes the arguments for a series of measures designed to promote economic development, improve infrastructure, and increase freedom of movement and access to land, in order to support effective development in Area C and help build the foundations of the future Palestinian State.
Rule of Law
Government in accordance with the Rule of Law will provide the back bone of the future State of Palestine. So in preparation for statehood the aim is for the PA to develop and maintain its Rule of Law capacity, including effective security control. It must demonstrate a capacity to meet its obligations to both Palestinians and the international community, including those contained in the Roadmap. Law and order provides the basis for economic development, and the transparent rule of law is the key to attracting further international investment. The Palestinian Authority has, despite numerous obstacles, made considerable progress in recent years. Much remains to be done to bolster this effort, by the PA, the GoI and the international community. The OQR is committed to working with all partners, especially the United States Security Coordinator and the EUPOL COPPS missions, to help meet these challenges.
The Office of the Quartet Representative (OQR) has called for a new strategy for Gaza, which includes the lifting of the blockade so that crucial reconstruction work can take place and legitimate business can prosper. The OQR continues to highlight the urgency of promoting the overall humanitarian relief effort, reconstruction and economic recovery of the Gaza Strip. While progress has been slow on achieving these broad goals, the OQR has also been working on implementing a set of specific measures to help ease the restrictions on the legitimate and non-politicised Gazan business community. These measures cover the infrastructure sector ,with a focus on electricity, waste water and water; the movement of goods and businessmen; the regularised transfer of cash to Palestinian bank branches; and support to the fishing sector. The OQR will continue to discuss the implementation of these measures with the Israeli authorities, the Palestinian government and the international donor community.