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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05AMMAN4635 2005-06-09 12:43:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Amman
Cable title:  

GAZA DISENGAGEMENT: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE REFUGEE

Tags:   PREF PREL PGOV EAID KPAL KWBG IS JO 
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091243Z Jun 05
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 AMMAN 004635 

SIPDIS

DEPT. PLEASE PASS USAID

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/06/2015
TAGS: PREF PREL PGOV EAID KPAL KWBG IS JO
SUBJECT: GAZA DISENGAGEMENT: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE REFUGEE
POPULATION

REF: AMMAN 4593

Classified By: Acting DCM Christopher Henzel for Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D
).



1. (C) SUMMARY: PRM PDAS Rich Greene reviewed the
implications Israel's planned Gaza disengagement will have
for UN programs that currently sustain over 950,000
Palestinian refugees -) two-thirds of the population -- in
May 15-19 meetings with officials from the Israeli MFA, the
Palestinian Authority (PA) Planning Ministry, the UN Relief
and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
(UNRWA), the UN Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA), and the World Bank. Greene secured an
Israeli MFA commitment to maintain UNRWA's access to Gaza
border crossings during disengagement. Separately, he
pressed UNRWA to immediately pre-position emergency food
stocks and other humanitarian supplies in central Gaza, and
confirmed a recent USG decision to contribute USD 20 million
to UNRWA,s 2005 emergency appeal. On post-disengagement
planning, Greene urged UNRWA to coordinate its development
planning with the PA and Special Envoy Wolfensohn's team. To
kick-start joint planning, the World Bank's West Bank and
Gaza Director agreed that World Bank staff could help
harmonize UNRWA-PA social safety net and micro-credit
programming. END SUMMARY.

MAINTAINING UNRWA EMERGENCY AID DURING DISENGAGEMENT


--------------------------



--------------------------





2. (SBU) In a May 15 meeting with Israel,s senior official
in charge of UN issues, MFA Deputy Director General for UN
and International Organizations Affairs Rony Ya,ar, visiting
PRM PDAS Rich Greene stressed the importance of preserving
UNRWA,s border access to Gaza during and after disengagement
to maintain emergency food and other relief programs that
currently sustain over half of the population of the Gaza
Strip. Ya,ar assured Greene that he would urge the FM to
press the IDF to keep the commercial Karni terminal open for
humanitarian relief during disengagement, noting that the
commitment to improve humanitarian access that PM Sharon gave
the UN SYG in their last meeting in Jerusalem provided the
MFA "a clear opening" to raise UNRWA access. Having
witnessed a temporary shutdown/evacuation of the Karni
terminal earlier that day, PDAS Greene asked how the GOI
would maintain aid if it were forced to close Karni in the
event of an attack. Ya,ar responded that the IDF would open
Gaza's southern, military-controlled Sufa crossing to UNRWA
if necessary. (COMMENT: While Ya'ar believes that
disengagement raises fundamental questions about UNRWA's
mandate, he welcomed the improvement in GOI-UNRWA relations
that has occurred since former UNRWA Commissioner General
Peter Hansen left the agency in March. END COMMENT.)



3. (SBU) Separately, on the margins of UNRWA's May 18-19
meeting with major donors and refugee hosting nations
(septel), Greene urged UNRWA Acting Commissioner General
Karen Abu Zayd to make emergency food distributions in Gaza a
top agency priority. Despite months of prodding by the USG
and other donors, UNRWA's Gaza Field Director confirmed at
that meeting that UNRWA has not yet tendered the agency's
September emergency food round for Gaza, claiming that the
agency lacked the USD 10 million in required funds. Greene
responded by confirming the USG's recent decision to
contribute USD 20 million to UNRWA's 2005 emergency appeal.
(NOTE: The USDEL expedited the transfer of these funds from
Washington to UNRWA HQ during the meeting. Saudi Arabia and
Japan recently contributed USD 20 million and 15 million
respectively to UNRWA's emergency appeal but earmarked those
contributions for housing reconstruction in Gaza. END NOTE.)




4. (SBU) Inadequate internal pre-positioning of food stocks
in Gaza remains a concern. While UNRWA invited UNSECOORD to
brief its donors at its May consultative meetings on the UN's
operating assumption that the IDF will "lock down" movement
at Gaza's two major junctions to facilitate the departure of
settlers, UNRWA's Gaza Field Director revealed to the USG
delegation May 19 that UNRWA had not yet taken steps to
ensure it maintains its emergency food distributions in
central Gaza (the area most vulnerable to closure) this
summer, citing the agency's lack of UNRWA warehouse
facilities. Greene pressed UNRWA to take immediate steps to
move the portion of its July food distribution round destined
for central Gaza, which is currently being stored in UNRWA
warehouses in Gaza City and Rafah, closer to its four central
refugee camps, suggesting that the agency overcome its
warehouse deficit by setting up temporary storage facilities
at schools located in those camps.



5. (SBU) UNRWA's West Bank Field Director also used the
agency's semi-annual stakeholder meeting to appeal to donors
to anticipate the impact continued construction of the
security barrier will have on refugees in the West Bank and
East Jerusalem, noting that UNRWA anticipates it will be
forced to relocate staff and warehouses in East Jerusalem to
Ramallah later this year. Greene informed OCHA OpT Director
David Shearer, following May 15-16 site visits to refugee
camps and other communities near Ramallah and East Jerusalem
that are affected by the barrier, that PRM would continue to
fund OCHA's efforts to assess the humanitarian impact of the
closure regime.

HARMONIZING UNRWA-PA POST-DISENGAGEMENT PLANNING


--------------------------

---



6. (C) PDAS Greene also used separate May 16-19 meetings with
PA Deputy Minister of Planning Samih al-Abid, World Bank West
Bank and Gaza Director Nigel Roberts, and UNRWA's senior
officials (septel), to underscore USG expectations for
post-disengagement planning targeting Palestinian refugees.
Greene stressed that the USG wants the PA, as it becomes more
capable and empowered, to assume primary responsibility for
post-disengagement development planning for all Gaza
residents (including the two-thirds who are refugees), rather
than cede partial responsibility to UNRWA. Al-Abid responded
that the PA, in the short term, is not capable of providing
direct services to refugees, noting that it is does not have
the finances nor the capacity. While conceding that the PA
should be "more creative" in addressing the needs of refugees
given that "refugee camps in Gaza are creating socio-economic
problems that require immediate attention," al-Abid stressed
that that Israel and the international community would have
to assume their responsibilities to promote access. He also
stressed the two major constraints to the PA making more
direct interventions to support refugees: the political
sensitivity among the Palestinian community to the PA
undertaking any initiatives for refugees as long as their
future status is linked to the creation of a Palestinian
state, and the fact that donors have responded poorly to
refugee-related appeals, noting traditional donor
under-funding of UNRWA's budget.



7. (C) The Deputy Planning Minister agreed that coordinating
UNRWA-PA post-disengagement planning and interventions,
particularly any large-scale infrastructure projects that
UNRWA may initiate, would be critical. Al-Abid also
acknowledged that the PA should be working more closely with
UNRWA on its efforts to launch programs designed to create a
tangible improvement in services post-disengagement,
particularly in the area of expanding social safety nets.
However, he was uncertain mechanisms would emerge in the near
term: lamenting the fact that internal disagreement within
the PA had stalled any effort to create a "master plan for
infrastructure," al-Abid noted that any decision to
institutionalize the meetings the Planning Ministry had
spearheaded in May to start harmonizing UNRWA's Medium Term
Plan with the PA's Medium Term Development Plan now resided
with PA Minister for Civilian Affairs Muhammad Dahlan's
disengagement coordination team.

UNRWA'S ROLE IN WOLFENSOHN'S RAPID ACTION PROGRAM?


--------------------------



--------------------------





8. (C) World Bank representative Nigel Roberts told Greene
May 16 that the World Bank and other donors working on
providing technical support for GOI-PA disengagement
coordination had probably not adequately considered the
importance of promoting PA-UNRWA cooperation. Although
Quartet Special Envoy for Disengagement James Wolfensohn and
Acting UNRWA ComGen Karen Abu Zayd and had made an earlier
commitment to discuss humanitarian access, UNRWA,s
microcredit program, and the impact of the PA's social safety
net initiative (reftel), Roberts said that the PA and UNRWA,
in his view, had not yet discussed coordinating their
activities, especially in terms of a common methodology for
targeting Palestinian hardship cases. UNRWA, he commented,
seemed concerned that the PA's greater focus on social safety
net programming, which could expand the number of PA
beneficiaries from 43,000 to 73,000-93,000 by August, could
negatively impact donor contributions to UNRWA and positively
increase contributions if the PA were to start targeting the
full West Bank/Gaza population. (NOTE: UNRWA Gaza Field
Director Lionel Brisson has submitted a paper to the World
Bank, noting that UNRWA lacks the resources to expand its
welfare program for refugees in Gaza this summer. END NOTE).
Greene welcomed World Bank efforts to harmonize UNRWA-PA
plans to expand social safety net programming in Gaza,
suggesting UNRWA's new poverty advisor as a counterpart.


9. (C) Asked whether the PA should take over infrastructure
projects that UNRWA carries out, such as constructing gas,
water, and sewage lines for refugee camps and gatherings,
Roberts said it might make sense, but added that he was not
certain whether the PA could do it better or cheaper.
Roberts agreed that the Quartet Disengagement Envoy
Wolfensohn should include UNRWA in the programs under
consideration for his Rapid Action Plan to show on-the-ground
progress to Palestinians during disengagement. Roberts noted
that UNRWA might be well positioned to expand small business
lending in Gaza.



10. (U) This message was cleared by PRM PDAS Greene.

HALE