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Gaza Crisis & Gap Between Aspirations & Reality

Gaza crisis underscores gap between aspirations and reality - UN political chief

30 January 2008 - The recent troubles in the Middle East illustrate "the gap between the aspirations of the political process and the grim realities of the situation on the ground," the United Nations political chief told the Security Council today, warning that the current crisis is overshadowing efforts to find a long-term peace settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In his second Council briefing on the issue in just over a week, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said there had been an intensification of violence in the past month in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel, as well as periods of total closure of Gaza and increased humanitarian suffering and human rights violations.

Only 32 truckloads of goods entered Gaza between 18 January and yesterday because of Israel's comprehensive closure of the border crossings, Mr. Pascoe said, compared to a daily average of 93 trucks during the first two weeks of this month and an average of 250 trucks in the weeks before last June.

A backlog of approximately 224 trucks belonging to various UN agencies has developed, although he said the world body understands that 35 trucks of the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were scheduled to enter Gaza today.

"The crisis adds new urgency to the proposal of the Palestinian Authority to operate the Gaza crossings," he said, stressing the UN's support for the initiative and calling on all parties to work together towards the controlled re-opening of the crossings for both humanitarian reasons and commercial flows.

"Such flows should include materials and equipment to enable UN re-housing and rubble removal projects to resume."

Addressing an open debate in the Council, Mr. Pascoe added that the UN supports Egypt's continuing efforts to find a peaceful and orderly situation along its border - entire parts of which have been destroyed in recent days - with Gaza.

While noting that the level of violence in Gaza and southern Israel has diminished significantly in the past week, he expressed concern that 77 rockets and mortars were fired last week by Palestinian militants and the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) carried out four incursions and air strikes on Gaza.

Turning to today's decision by the Israeli Supreme Court to declare legal the reductions to Gaza's fuel and electricity supply, the Under-Secretary-General reminded Council members that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has previously stated his concern that the territory's estimated 1.4 million residents "should not be punished for the unacceptable actions of militants and extremists."

In addition, Mr. Pascoe voiced ongoing UN concern over the presidential vacuum in Lebanon and the most recent grave security incidents in the country, including deadly demonstrations and the assassination of senior figures in the Internal Security Forces.

"Lebanon's leaders must act now to find a way to bridge their positions and return the country to normal political activity."


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