Donor conference pledges $5.4 bln for Gaza

Sisi says now is the time for Israel to end the conflict through the framework of the 2000 Arab peace initiative

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International envoys pledged about $5.4 billion in reconstruction aid for the Gaza Strip at a meeting in Egypt on Sunday, Norway's foreign minister said.

“The participants pledged approximately $5.4 billion,” said Boerge Brende, reading out a closing statement at the Cairo conference which Norway co-hosted.


For his part, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled on Saturday a $212 million aid plan to help the Gaza Strip after it was devastated by a 50-day war between Israel and Hamas.

Kerry, who was one of 30 ministers attending the donor conference for the reconstruction of Gaza, said the Palestinians needed immediate assistance and that the humanitarian challenge was "enormous.”

“The people of Gaza do need our help, desperately, not tomorrow, not next week, they need it now,” he said told the Cairo meeting.

Qatar also promised $1 billion in reconstruction aid for Gaza at a donor conference in Cairo on Sunday, topping U.S. and European pledges for the devastated Palestinian enclave.

The Palestinian Authority headed by President Mahmoud Abbas has asked for $4 billion to reconstruct the Gaza Strip, mostly to rebuild homes in the wake of the conflict which killed 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 73 Israelis, most of them soldiers.

Abbas repeated his calls for an internationally set timeframe for establishing a Palestinian state, telling the global envoys in attendance that the latest conflict had destroyed government institutions in Gaza.

"Gaza has suffered three wars in six years. Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed ... There is a tangible need for funds to bring back government institutions, because they have all been destroyed," Abbas said.

"There must be a new international approach to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," he added.

"More than ever, the international community needs to support our attempt for a U.N. Security Council resolution to set a deadline to end the occupation."

Abbas and his Islamist Hamas rivals in Gaza have agreed on a unity government which convened last week for the first time in the enclave.

Egypt has said the conference will also try to shore up the PA in Gaza, seen as a key condition to allow aid into the Israeli-blockaded territory.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who was also in attendance at the Cairo conference, stressed that the Palestinian cause was the central one for Arabs and that Israel should move toward a settlement through the framework of the 2000 Arab peace initiative.

“Now is the time to end the conflict,” he said, addressing Israel.

Meanwhile, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon told the conference in Egypt that he will visit the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip on Tuesday.

“I will visit Gaza on Tuesday to listen directly to the people of Gaza,” Moon told reporters in Cairo, adding that he would also travel to Israel.

The Palestinian presidency, meanwhile, said prime minister Rami Hamdallah would meet Ban on Monday morning in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin are to hold separate talks with Ban in Jerusalem on Monday afternoon, their offices said.

Tuesday’s visit to Gaza will be Ban’s first to the Palestinian territory since February 2012.

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