The Palestinians’ “Worst Case Scenario”

By CALME Luminary Amjad Attalah
President, Strategic Assessments Initiative, Former Legal Advisor to the Palestinian Negotiating Team

As tensions continue to escalate in Gaza between civil servants and the Hamas-led parliament, the real losers are those who hold no stake in the strike – Palestinian students.  The closing of public schools in the territories has driven students either to Islamic schools, or for those who cannot afford the private tuition or are shut out due to overcrowding, to the street.  Unfortunately, by depriving them of an affordable and available education, we provide them with the seeds of discontent.

This is what then-Middle East Envoy James Wolfensohn called the “the worst-case scenario” when the U.S. cut off direct aid in March, and warned that it “could fuel a new cycle of violence.” The breakdown of basic services is dangerous, and must be resolved immediately.  Resolution is dependent on a number of moving factors, but contingent on the U.S. actively pursuing targeted funding options that reach those most in need – not Hamas’s political leadership.  Presidents Bush and Abbas – as well as President Bush and the Quartet – will meet in New York this week, and finalizing a targeted funding mechanism as was promised months ago must be the first item on the agenda.  The Palestinian leadership, in turn, owes it to their next generation to move forward with a planned unity government that accepts the terms of the Quartet. 

Political maneuvering today is leaving the future of young Palestinians in the balance, and this is the last gamble that anyone should be willing to take.  It is incumbent upon the United States to engage where it can, and to advocate on behalf of those who cannot advocate for themselves.

Explore posts in the same categories: Aid, CALME Luminaries, Middle East Peace, Palestinians, U.S. Role

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