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World

AFP
March 13, 2018
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Palestinian attendance unclear at White House Gaza conference


WASHINGTON: The White House will hold a conference on the humanitarian situation in Gaza on Tuesday, but it is unclear whether any Palestinian officials will attend.

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President Donald Trump´s "administration believes that deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Gaza require immediate attention," US special envoy Jason Greenblatt said in a statement announcing the conference.

The meeting is expected to include top White House aide Jared Kushner, National Security Council staff and "many of the relevant parties," according to Greenblatt.

It is unclear whether Palestinians officials will break their de facto boycott of US officials to attend.

The Palestinians were enraged by President Donald Trump´s decision to break with long-standing US policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel´s capital.

"We are pleased with the committed list of attendees, which includes many of the relevant parties and anticipate a robust dialogue," said Greenblatt.

"The challenge will be determining which ideas can be realistically implemented in light of the fact that the Palestinians of Gaza continue to suffer under the authoritarian rule of Hamas."

A decade-long Israeli blockade and a dispute between Gaza´s Islamist rulers and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authorities have brought the coastal territory´s economy to its knees.

Israel has maintained a blockade of Gaza since 2007, which it says is necessary to isolate Hamas. The two sides have fought three wars since 2008.

Rights groups and UN officials say the blockade amounts to collective punishment and strangles the economy in the enclave, where unemployment is around 40 percent.

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