APRODEV, a Brussels-based association of European development agencies related to the World Council of Churches, has urged the European Union (EU) to develop a long-term strategy to reconnect Gaza to the West Bank.
A statement issued by the APRODEV on March 12 states that “long term perspectives of sustainable economic growth and development can only be achieved with a strategy aimed at reconnecting Gaza to the West Bank in every possible way.”
APRODEV, which supports its partner organizations in Gaza, in its description of the physical barriers separating Gaza from the West Bank, has stressed that “Gaza’s development is prevented by the closure, which continues to collectively punish 1.7 million Palestinians by impacting on their health, education, and socio-economic wellbeing, as well as isolating the Strip further from the rest of the Palestinian territory and population.”
The statement goes on to say that “the current strife between the Palestinian Authority and the de facto authorities in Gaza is widening intra-Palestinian social, political and economic gaps.”
APRODEV acknowledges that the aid from the EU and the international community has been critical to the short-term welfare of the Palestinian population. Yet “without ending violations of humanitarian law, it can only serve to stem somewhat the deterioration in the Gaza Strip.”
To overcome the current deadlock, among other recommendations, APRODEV encourages the EU and its member states to exert pressure on Israel to lift disproportionate restrictions on movement of persons, commercial goods and humanitarian aid, in and out of Gaza.
It also appeals to cease attacks on civilians and their property and allow safe access to the “Access Restricted Areas,” especially to fishermen and farmers.
APRODEV invites the EU to revise their non-contact policy with Hamas and take steps to assist in remedying the disruption of Palestine’s national unity and territorial integrity.
APRODEV is an association of Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox development agencies based in Europe. It works to influence decision-making processes in the EU institutions in order to promote justice and peace, and eradication of poverty. In this, APRODEV pursues a rights-based development approach from a faith-based perspective.