Robert Serry, the United Nation’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, visited Gaza on Sunday, June 8 to meet with some of the new members of the Palestinian Unity Government (PUG).
Serry held a joint meeting at the Ministry of Public Works and Housing with newly appointed PUG officials: Minister of Women’s Affairs Haifa al-Agha, Minister of Labor Mamoun Abu Shahla, Minister of Justice Salim al-Saqqa, and Mufeed al-Hasayneh, the new minister of public works and housing.
While in Gaza, Serry promised increased U.N. development aid for Gaza. He also called for lifting the internationally recognized legal blockade of Gaza’s border enforced by Israel and Egypt, according to several reports.
In a statement, Serry congratulated the PUG ministers on their appointment and discussed with them challenges ahead.
The U.N. envoy told the new ministers in Gaza that he hoped they would soon be able to travel freely to meet with their colleagues in what he did not refer to as the disputed territories. He also took the opportunity to chastise Israel.
“We count on a constructive approach by all stakeholders, including Israel, and urge all to refrain from unhelpful actions,” Serry said.
“Gazans must, as soon as possible, feel the dividends of unity. Open crossings both for goods and people, access to construction material, re-establishing trade links between the West Bank and Gaza and exports are urgently needed to kickstart the economy and create job opportunities,” the U.N. envoy added.
The U.N. official failed to mention the Gazans’ destruction of the greenhouses left behind by the Israelis agricultural workers in 2005. Those thriving, advanced agritech structures could have been the basis for a booming agricultural economy. Instead, on the very night every last Israeli, living or dead, was removed from Gaza, the residents trashed the greenhouses in a paroxysm of manic destruction.
When the PUG was first announced in April, Serry met with acting PA head Mahmoud Abbas and assured the world that the new PUG would be implemented on the basis of the PLO commitments.
President Abbas emphasized that these commitments include recognition of Israel, non-violence, and adherence to previous agreements. President Abbas also reiterated his continued commitment to peace negotiations and to non-violent popular protests.
Well alrighty then, that’s settled.
Serry was the first senior international official to meet with PUG officials in Gaza. In addition to his work at the United Nations, Serry is a popular presenter at J Street’s national conferences.