The Special Envoy on Disengagement, James Wolfensohn, returned to Jerusalem on Thursday 8th July 2005. During this visit, he focused on resolution of the six joint issues introduced in the last Periodic Report. When he left on 15 July much progress had been made on most of the issues with the proposals described below being seriously considered by the parties:
i. Border Crossings and Trade Corridors – a three phase approach to “back – to – back” for all crossings but Rafah. Phase I would see improvements in the current process, and in particular an increase from 4 to 8 or ten lines, more x-ray machines etc, with the expectation of decreasing the waiting time. Phase II would introduce methods which would move the process towards “door – to – door”“. For example, the cab would be released, the trailer scanned and a new cab used once the trailer had passed the scanning. Phase III would see the Special Envoy chair a committee to determine an agreed definition of “door – to – door” and define methods of implementation. The Palestinians have indicated a preference to maintain Rafah for both people and goods while the Israelis have suggested movement of people through the current terminal and movement of goods through Nitzana.
ii. Connecting Gaza with the West Bank – the sides agreed to convoy transport immediately after disengagement, subject to ongoing negotiations regarding the introduction of either a rail link or a sunken road. The Special Envoy will also chair a committee that will review both these options and make recommendations to the parties for decision.
iii. Internal Movement in the West Bank – there is a suggestion that a joint committee to review the status and utility of closures be established, possibly with OCHA.
iv. Air and Sea Ports – construction to proceed on the seaport; planning to begin on the airport with construction coming after the evacuation.
v. The Houses in the Settlements – the most pressing issue is where the rubble can be disposed of with the current consideration being the Sinai.
vi. The Greenhouses in the Settlements – discussions directed at keeping the greenhouses in tact are ongoing.
Note that the status of these issues is fluid at the moment and subject to change.
While work continues with the World Bank, the IMF and the Palestinian Authority to address the PA’s fiscal crisis and develop a Stable Medium-Term Financial Platform for Palestinian Development, the Special Envoy’s Team has been working with the donors to identify a package of benefits which will be ongoing and ready to implement immediately after Disengagement. The Special Envoy is grateful to those donors who have responded to the initial request for general information and now looks forward to receiving more detailed information currently being requested by the team.
The PA has been also asked to provide a list of needs to the team so that it can ensure donor projects meet the needs or alternatively that donors with new funding can address those needs.
The ultimate objective will be to have an overview of the projects that are ongoing and starting at the time of disengagement until the end of the year that meet the needs of the Palestinian people. The Special Envoy hopes to distribute a complilation of the information being gathered in August.
Mr. Wolfensohn currently plans to return at the end of July 2005.
Office of The Special Envoy for Disengagement, Periodic Report, 15 July 2005