This month, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Hamas authorities in Gaza signed an agreement to end a decade of division. Both sides say the goal is to reunite the West Bank and Gaza under the control of the Palestinian Authority and reconcile divisions between Fatah and Hamas.
This is an important first step towards hope for Gaza’s future and a crucial step for larger issues regarding Israel to be tackled.
This isn’t the first time that the two parties have tried to reconcile, and the agreement is fragile. It needs the support of the US government and all who want to see a just peace in Israel/Palestine.
This agreement comes in the midst of a dire crisis for Gaza. Electricity is only available for one to three hours per day. Hospitals function on generators. The unemployment rate in Gaza is over 44 percent. The United Nations predicted Gaza would uninhabitable by 2020, but with rapid declines in living conditions over the last several years, that day may arrive much sooner
The water and sanitation systems in Gaza have collapsed. Up to 95 million liters of raw sewage flows from Gaza into the Mediterranean Sea every day. 96% of Gaza’s water supply is not fit for human consumption.
The Gaza blockade must be lifted regardless of what happens between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Security concerns of Israel and border issues with Egypt can be addressed through monitored crossings that allow the people of Gaza to move freely, humanitarian aid to reach Gaza, and commerce to resume.
The recent agreement between the PA and Hamas presents a rare glimmer of hope in Gaza. But many obstacles remain in place.
Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas will need to make hard concessions to share power. And Israel and the US could derail reconciliation. In response to past efforts at Palestinian unity, the United States has threatened to cut funds and punish the PA in other ways. We need to take action to ensure that the US supports this important process, supports hope for Gaza and all Palestinians’ future.
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United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR) is an international grassroots peace movement in the United Methodist Church responding to Palestinian Christians’ urgent call, in Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth, for effective action to end the Israeli occupation and achieve a just peace in the Holy Land. UMKR seeks – through nonviolent action and in partnership with our Palestinian sisters and brothers in Christ – freedom, justice and equality for all Palestinians and Israelis.
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