UN: Palestinians reforms have been meaningless

Special to World
Monday, August 16, 2004

The United Nations has determined that the Palestinian Authority failed to implement meaningful reforms.

In a briefing to the UN Security Council, a senior official said the PA has not responded to appeals from the international community to institute security or civilian reforms. The official said the PA has announced reforms, but largely failed to implement them.

"Implementation of reform continues to be slow, and mostly cosmetic," Kieran Prendergast, UN undersecretary-general for political affairs, told the Security Council. "This cannot be explained other than by a lack of political will to advance along that road."

Prendergast reviewed recent developments in the PA in his Aug. 11 briefing. The UN officials, a U.S. national, said PA Chairman Yasser Arafat agreed in late July to grant Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei authority over security agencies that had been under under Interior Ministry control.

But, Prendergast said, Arafat did not fulfill his pledge even in wake of a threat by Qurei to resign. Instead, such authority has remained with the Arafat-dominated National Security Council.

"Ultimate authority and control over all Palestinian Authority security agencies remains with the National Security Council, headed by President Arafat," Prendergast said.

Prendergast said the PA has failed to restructure the 13 PA security agencies. He cited another Arafat pledge to merge the security agencies.

In July, UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen warned that the PA has been paralyzed and on the verge of collapse. Roed-Larsen blamed Arafat for the failure to implement security reforms and restore order.

The UN also was briefed on incidents in which staffers were caught in the crossfire between Israeli troops and Palestinian insurgents in the Gaza Strip. Prendergast said that in two cases Israeli troops refused to halt fire against Palestinian insurgents to enable the UN staffers to move to safety.

"The United Nations is deeply concerned over the unacceptably high number of security incidents involving UN staff caused by Israeli action over the last few weeks," a UN statement said.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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