Middle East

Visit by Parliamentary State Secretary Silberhorn to Israel and the Palestinian Territories draws to an end

Parliamentary Secretary of State Silberhorn on a tour of Gaza City

13.05.2015 |

Early today, Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, officially opened a school in Ramallah which had been funded by Germany. During his three-day official visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Silberhorn also met with Palestinian Prime Minister Hamdallah and other Palestinian government representatives. On Tuesday, he was in Tel Aviv for meetings with Israeli government officials.

Following talks with young people in Gaza City, Silberhorn called for the borders to the Gaza Strip to be opened further, saying: "It is sad to hear that so many young Palestinians have never been outside the Gaza Strip. This makes it difficult for the two sides to communicate and get to know each other. The fact that young Israelis and Palestinians hardly know each other any longer is certainly not going to help restart the peace process. The general political conditions for Gaza need to change so that the young generation in particular has a chance to make a go of development opportunities. The conditions I am referring to include the lifting of border restrictions without endangering Israel's security interests, and the return in full of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza."

Thomas Silberhorn got a first-hand impression of the progress made so far in reconstructing accommodation for Palestinian refugees. As a result of the war, some 130,000 dwellings for Palestinian refugees were destroyed. Parliamentary State Secretary Silberhorn pledged a further 37 million euros as support for a reconstruction programme being implemented by UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. In 2014, Germany had already provided 20 million euros for this purpose. In Gaza, Thomas Silberhorn met a Palestinian family who were making their home habitable again with German support.

Silberhorn said, "Germany will continue to work with the Palestinian Authority in order to help rebuild Gaza quickly. We want to help create development opportunities for all Palestinians – regardless of whether they live in Gaza, the West Bank or East Jerusalem."

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