Development cooperation and political talks to reiterate Italy’s full support for the peace negotiations were the focus of Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli’s visit to the Gaza Strip. Pistelli met the operations director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Robert Turner. He also visited centres runs by UNRWA, including the Amal Prep Co-ed School and a health centre at Khan Younis.
“In Italy we have the current tragic circumstances of Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon close to heart. Our commitment is witnessed by the strong bond of cooperation between the Italian and Palestinian peoples”, commented Pistelli. In 2013, Italy made a donation of 8 million euros to UNRWA to support basic services for Palestinian refugees throughout the region. Italy has also helped support Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon, by allocating one million euros to meet the urgent educational needs of the 225,000 pupils attending the 245 UNRWA-run schools in the Gaza Strip.
Arbitration centre opened in Ramallah
“Increasing the potential of the economic system and encouraging the construction of the commercial and organisational structures of the future Palestinian State”. These are the goals of the new Palestinian arbitration centre opened in Ramallah under the aegis of the Italian Foreign Ministry in the presence of Deputy Minister Pistelli. The arbitration centres, which Pistelli described as the launch of Palestinian institution building, are private legal organisations designed to resolve economic and legal disputes. They operate within a given state, but their decisions can be trans-national in scope.
The project to create this private legal body involved Palestinian professional associations, led by engineers and lawyers, as well as the Palestinian National Authority’s Ministry for Economic Development. On the Italian side, it was sponsored by the Foreign Ministry and by Umbria Region.
The Palestinian National Authority and President Abu Mazen “are committed to making determined progress in the peace talks with Israel”. This was Pistelli’s comment after a series of meetings with both the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships.
They want to exploit this opportunity to the fullest, including with strong support from the USA”, explained Pistelli. “However, ‘strong concern’ remains over the Syrian crisis”. The Deputy Minister underscored the attention with which the Italian Government is following the entire Middle East and its “full” support for the peace talks.