Hamas and Fatah Compete over Gaza Reconstruction Impedes Donor Funds from Reaching

The file of the reconstruction of Gaza faces thorny difficulties, after the US and Israel impose conditions through which the Palestinian Authority will take over the management of the reconstruction. However, this condition has impeded the possibility of starting to return what was destroyed by the occupation, after Hamas refused to involve the Palestinian Authority in the process of reconstructing Gaza, in addition to the Israeli occupation linked reconstruction to the issue of prisoners held by Hamas. Israel also continues to close commercial crossings in the Gaza Strip and prevent the entry of construction materials in general.

Israel launched an aggression on the Gaza Strip on May 10, which was described as the most violent, following the Al-Qassam Brigades’ bombing of Jerusalem in response to the attempts to displace the residents of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. During this aggression, Israel destroyed thousands of homes and industrial and commercial facilities, in addition to destroying the infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, causing heavy human and material losses. The cost of reconstruction, according to government agencies in Gaza, was estimated at $8 billion.

Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the Egyptian President, has announced the provision of a financial grant of $500 million for the reconstruction of Gaza in partnership with Egyptian companies. While Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian Foreign Minister has stressed that the aid to Gaza and the reconstruction will be carried out in full coordination with the Palestinian Authority. However, Hamas rejects any regional and international proposal based on involving the Palestinian Authority in the reconstruction process.

As a result of Israel and the United States’ attempt to set up obstacles, the EU has demanded the reconstruction of Gaza without international preconditions, calling on all Palestinian forces to agree to form a national unity government that would undertake the reconstruction with serious steps.

UN officials also have called for the start of a real political process, aimed at ensuring the long-term reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, away from setting complicated conditions that aggravate the situation in the region.

The Palestinian Authority, with US and European support and the United Nations, is working on a program for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas. Washington and Tel Aviv are seeking to exclude Hamas, for fear of exploiting reconstruction funds and materials to develop its military capabilities, but Hamas’ insistence on preventing the involvement of the Palestinian Authority impedes the arrival of donor funds.

After the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel on May 20, US President Joe Biden said that Washington would provide the necessary support for the reconstruction of Gaza, but the reconstruction process would be far from any administration or supervision by Hamas. This is to ensure that Hamas does not use funds and construction materials to enhance its military capabilities, and the reconstruction process will be in partnership with the Palestinian Authority only.

Egypt had informed the Palestinian factions on June 10 that they would postpone the date of the dialogues and meetings that were scheduled to start in Cairo last week. On the reasons for the postponement, sources indicated that the difficulty of agreeing on some issues between Hamas and Fatah prompted Cairo to give the factions more time to consult and reach understandings on differences related to root files.

In this context, Attia Jawabreh, a professor of political science, stressed that the Palestinian Authority, as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, has the right to undertake the efforts to rebuild the Strip. While Hamas, after being internationally designated as a terrorist organization, cannot obtain funds from many donor countries, and this impedes the reconstruction of Gaza.

“Since it entered the war, Hamas has been seeking to circumvent the Palestinian Authority and the Liberation Organization. Many countries with political and financial weight are based on supporting Hamas, most notably Turkey and Qatar,” Jawabreh indicates in his interview with MENA.

“Hamas seeks to replace the Authority and refuses to involve it in any pending issue in Gaza, especially After the failure of the elections, which President Abbas announced to cancel in early May,” Jawabreh adds.

Jawabreh explained that Egypt finds it difficult to overcome the sharp differences between Hamas and Fatah, as the preliminary meetings that took place separately between the delegations of Hamas and Fatah with Egyptian officials failed to achieve consensus. Therefore, the Egyptian officials found it difficult to find a formal agreement that could be signed between the leaders of the factions. This would certainly worsen the destructive situation in Gaza, and impede the possibility of starting the reconstruction of Gaza soon.

Jawabreh believes that in the absence of close solutions to the outstanding issues to begin the reconstruction of Gaza, Egypt will lead the reconstruction process under pressure from Israel and America, and this will be welcomed by Hamas, which it maintains strong relations with Egypt. On the other hand, Israel will not refuse Egypt to take over the management of the reconstruction process, given that Egypt is an influential regionally and has its weight.

While Israel and America insist on granting the authority the right to supervise the reconstruction process, citizens who own destroyed homes and facilities in Gaza fear a repetition of the 2014 war scenario. When the Palestinian Authority concluded its contracts as a party responsible for managing the reconstruction process, while hundreds of homeless families are still without Shelter, as there are many residential towers and industrial facilities, idle and not built again, amid accusations of embezzlement of the funds provided by donor countries.

In turn, Khalil Shaheen, the writer and political analyst, stated that the Palestinian Authority adheres to the file of Gaza reconstruction, not only for the political interest, but also because there is an economic interest which the authority is trying to achieve. And that is through the flow of reconstruction funds through its treasury, as the goods that enter the Gaza Strip through the Israeli crossings, the Authority receives part of the taxes that strengthen the treasury of the financial authority.

“Reconstruction, and ending the siege of Gaza, must take place through embodying the unity of the Palestinian people under the umbrella of the Liberation Organization, and the entry of Fatah and Hamas into a national unity government, to overcome all the obstacles placed by Israel and external parties,” Shaheen adds to MENA.

Shaheen pointed out that the citizens of the Gaza Strip have priorities at this stage, which is the reconstruction of what was destroyed by Israel during the war on Gaza. Moreover, the victory that the people in Gaza achieved must be invested to end their siege, and ensure the flow of funds, whether through Egypt or the UN, to employ the largest possible number of workers in the construction sector in particular. In addition to ending the electricity and wastewater crisis, developing infrastructure, and improving the living conditions of thousands of unemployed citizens.

According to official data has shown by the Palestinian Statistics Authority, the unemployment rate in Gaza has risen to 52 percent since the beginning of this year. While Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the People’s Committee to Confront the Siege, has announced that the high rate of unemployment among young people in Gaza threatens with negative catastrophes on the living situation inside the Strip. Especially in light of the high percentage of those below the poverty line, and the dependence of a large number of families on the aid provided by UNRWA and relief institutions other.

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