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Principles for Enhanced Accountability of Aid to Palestinians

The failure of international policies, including decades of ineffective “aid”, has been demonstrated again in the devastation of Gaza. We deserve better. The time has come to implement processes that enable scrutiny and compel accountability by aid actors to those most affected. Building on previous civil society demands, we propose the following principles:

  1. Nothing About Us Without Us. Members of civil society are development actors in their own right and not mere implementers. Civil society participants, selected via civil society, itself must play an intrinsic role in any aid, reconstruction or development processes based on transparent procedures to ensure diverse participation by all political groups and sectors of society. Moreover, in respect for Palestinians’ right to participate, all documents and websites related to aid, reconstruction and development must be in Arabic with clear procedures for public input. The private sector cannot be exempt from transparency and accountability obligations.
  2. Prioritize Palestinian Self-Determination. Every aid decision should be made with the objective of ending the occupation, fragmentation, colonization and dispossession of the entire Palestinian people and to enable Palestinians to access all their land and other natural resources. The goal of self-determination must not be postponed or subsumed by the urgency of meeting immediate “humanitarian” needs. To promote territorial integrity, Gaza should not be treated as a separate entity from, or as a sub-entity of, the West Bank. Reconstruction decisions should not prioritize Israel’s security concerns, perceived “feasibility” or let short-term fixes undermine the realization of rights. Aid actors must refuse to be complicit in maintaining Israel’s illegal blockade on Gaza and other violations of international law.
  3. Let Locals Lead Using Local Systems and Resources. In accordance with the principle of local ownership and the Palestinian right to self-determination, all reconstruction and development funding should go through Palestinian systems to local Gaza actors. Only when local actors are unable to fulfill needs (using objective criteria and transparent decisions) should West Bank, other Palestinian, refugee and Diaspora communities or international actors be mobilized as partners of local Gaza actors. No new international bodies or systems should be created for the reconstruction process; a Palestinian national technical committee should be created to lead the process in a competent and transparent manner that is accountable to the broader population and other stakeholders.
  4. Aid Should Not Exacerbate Conflict. International assistance should not discriminate on the basis of political belief or affiliation (or any other factor) against any person or group in the determination of eligibility, contracts or jobs, nor should aid be used to exacerbate inter-communal conflicts. In accordance with the principle of “legitimate politics” and other principles outlined in the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, all activities should promote social inclusion and conflict management. This is an opportunity for the aid community to finally deal reasonably with Hamas and other Palestinian groups.
  5. Implement Accountability Systems. An independent monitoring system that applies international and locally-developed, context-specific criteria should report at regular intervals to avoid wasteful, harmful outcomes, seen in the international response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. All funding mechanisms--whether direct budgetary support to the PA, pooled funds, direct implementation, or funds expended to civil society--must be transparent and accountable to the Palestinian people as a whole, especially the people in Gaza. Palestinians must be informed of their right to participate and their right to complain and receive a response. Above all, “accountability” must be defined more broadly than in technical or project terms. It must include robust international efforts such as sanctions to hold Israel accountable politically and economically for both past and ongoing transgressions.
  6. Track Damages. Expand the Register of Damage initiated in response to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice to track harm caused by Israel’s Annexation Wall. Include damages from the 2008-9, 2012, and 2014 assaults on Gaza, as per international standards to enable data to be used for future reparations and compensation claims. An additional register of damage to aid-funded projects should be kept by international donors and used to claim compensation from Israel.
  7. Prevent Aid to Palestinians from Enriching Israel. Aid funds must not enrich Israel, potentially funding future violations. No aid fund should be used to purchase aid supplies from, or to pay taxes, fees or “security-related” charges to the Israeli government or to any Israeli company or NGO, except those that have explicitly and consistently recognized full Palestinian rights and worked against Israeli colonization and policies.
  8. Announce an Exit Plan. The criteria used to justify the influential role played by the United Nations in Gaza’s reconstruction should be made public, along with a timeline and specific criteria that will trigger the planned exit of the UN and other international actors and the smooth transition to democratic governance in Gaza as part of a national plan.
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