$5 Billion raised for Gaza reconstruction

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - OCTOBER 13, 2014

International donors on Sunday pledged US$5.4 billion in response to a Palestinian appeal for aid to rebuild Gaza following its destruction during the 50-day war between Hamas and Israel that ended in August. The Palestinians had appealed for US$4 billion.

The seven weeks of Israeli bombardment, Palestinian rocket attacks, and ground fighting from early July to late August left more than 2 100 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians, along with 67 Israeli soldiers, six civilians and damage in billions of dollars.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende announced the total Sunday at the close of a 30-nation conference in Cairo.

However, before the conference, world leaders had expressed concerns about giving money without a lasting cease-fire agreement in place.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the world has "clearly recognized the massive needs" in Gaza, but that the "cycle of building and destroying must end."

Among the biggest donors was Qatar, which pledged $1 billion.

US Secretary of State John Kerry announced an immediate American donation of US$212 million, which is in addition to US$202 million in humanitarian aid the US had already committed.

The 28-nation European Union pledged US$568 million, while the United Arab Emirates and Turkey both said they would donate US$200 million.

Prospects for peace

Without an agreement on a lasting cease-fire or a political framework for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Foreign Minister Brende said there are many legitimate questions about “why donor countries should once again pick up the bill for rebuilding what warring parties have torn down.”

“We have not forgotten the issue of a two-state solution. It is back on the international agenda. And there is now a political momentum built up to pressure the parties to get back to the negotiating table,” said Brende.

Israeli officials were not present for these talks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly last month that the fact that its Human Rights Council is investigating Israel rather than Hamas “has betrayed its noble mission to protect the innocent.”

Egypt announced at the talks that it would reconvene indirect talks between the Israelis and Palestinians later this month.

Photo caption: US Secretary of State John Kerry announced an immediate American donation of US$212 million, which is in addition to US$202 million in humanitarian aid the US had already committed.