United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People, FAO Headquarters, Rome, 27 and 28 February 2013

The Seminar, organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, was the first such gathering since the General Assembly voted decisively in November 2012 to accord Palestine non-Member observer State status at the United Nations.

Experts, joined by senior Palestinian officials, weighed the challenges and opportunities of developing a self-sustaining economy in the new reality of a State under occupation. While agreeing that the principal issues in Palestine were not economical but political, they nevertheless outlined programmes aimed at rebuilding the severely eroded Palestinian agriculture sector, ensuring high governance standards, and generating donor support for the reconstruction of Gaza.

Experts stressed that the conditions of humanitarian strife in the West Bank and Gaza — severe restrictions on movement and constraints on livelihoods — were man-made, with the occupation practices creating a “protection crisis”. If allowed, the Palestinian people could effectively address their challenges themselves.

Participants hailed the remarkable multi-sectoral achievements of the Palestinian Government and expressed appreciation of the vital efforts of the United Nations, the donor community, Palestinian and international civil society organizations and the private sector.

Expressing gratitude for unwavering support, Palestinian officials at the meeting asked the donor community to challenge Israel’s detrimental policies on the ground by supporting reconstruction in Gaza and projects that would connect the West Bank to East Jerusalem, by promoting the development of Area C, and by demanding that settlement products be labeled as such. They urged to look for new ideas on how to move forward, while sharing a unanimous sentiment of seminar participants that a small window of opportunity, opening on the political front following the last year’s General Assembly resolution, should not be missed.