On 5th December 2018, Forward Thinking convened a high-level working meeting on the humanitarian situation in Palestine bringing together representatives from the UN, UNRWA, and Director – level representation from the political and humanitarian departments of European and Gulf – MENA Foreign Ministries, and representatives from aid agencies working on the ground. The aim was to provide a confidential space for diverse institutions and governments to offer a frank assessment of the challenges needing to be addressed, the obstacles to doing so effectively, and the areas where further and deeper cooperation would make the response more effective.

The humanitarian challenges facing the Palestinian people are diverse and acute, particularly in Gaza, and are a result of political failures. Addressing these needs is essential on the basis of globally recognised humanitarian principles but there is a shrinking space for effective action.

The discussions ensured there was a clear picture of needs on the ground from a diverse set of perspectives, an assessment of the political and practical challenges to responding to these needs – both those shared by all working in this area and those specific to certain actors, and the areas where further and deeper cooperation would make efforts more effective.

Looking to 2019 in a highly challenging political and funding environment, it is essential that momentum is sustained to continue humanitarian aid on the basis of ‘humanity, not politics’, recognising also that the unavoidably complex political nature of the crisis requires political efforts to address causal factors.