Urge Congress to support Palestinian unity and end the Gaza blockade
Last week the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Hamas authorities in Gaza signed a reconciliation deal to end the decade of division between the two groups.
The goal of the deal is to reunite the West Bank and Gaza under the control of the Palestinian Authority, while reconciling the divisions between the political factions.
The new agreement is an important first step for hope for Gaza and a necessary move before larger issues between Palestinians and Israelis can be addressed.
However, this is not the first time that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have agreed to reconcile, and the agreement is fragile.
Take action to support the agreement:
This agreement comes at a time of dire crisis in Gaza:
* Electricity is available for only one to three hours per day. Hospitals function on generators. Families live without the ability to use modern technology.
* The water and sanitation systems have collapsed. Up to 95 million liters of raw sewage flows from Gaza into the Mediterranean Sea every day, and 96 percent of Gaza's water supply is not fit for human consumption.
* The unemployment rate is over 44 percent.
* The United Nations predicted that Gaza would uninhabitable by 2020, but with rapid declines in recent years, some say Gaza may be unlivable even sooner.
The blockade of Gaza must be lifted regardless of what happens between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
The security concerns of Israel can be addressed through other means that allow humanitarian aid to reach Gaza, commerce to resume, and the people of Gaza to move freely.
Many obstacles remain that could derail the agreement. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas will need to make hard concessions as they agree on how to share power.
Actions by Israel and the United States also could derail reconciliation: in the past, the United States has responded to efforts for Palestinian unity by threatening to cut funding and take other punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority.
We must ensure that the US supports this important process.