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October 21st, 2014
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Int’l Donors Pledge $5.4 Billion for Gaza; Hamas Declares PR Victory

Int’l Donors Pledge $5.4 Billion for Gaza; Hamas Declares PR Victory

International envoys pledged about $5.4 billion in aid for the Gaza Strip at a meeting in Egypt on Sunday,  October 12, Norway's foreign minister said.

"The participants pledged approximately $5.4 billion (4.3 billion euros)," said Boerge Brende, reading out a closing statement at the Cairo conference which Norway co-hosted.

Half of the pledges will go for reconstruction and the rest as unspecified aid to the Palestinians, he said.

The donors "committed themselves to start disbursing their assistance as soon as possible," Brende said.

The conference aimed at financing the reconstruction of swathes of Gaza destroyed in a July-August war between Israel and Hamas.

Gas-rich Qatar led the way at the donors conference in Cairo with a promise of $1 billion in aid to the coastal enclave.

The Palestinians asked for up to $4 billion in international aid after Gaza suffered heavy damage in its 50-day summer war with Israel.

The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait also pledged $200 million each.

The international community insisted that Hamas's Gaza is in a "humanitarian crisis," in the conference of more than 50 international and corporate representatives in Cairo on Sunday.

Hamas officials have already stated that the conference is a means of "proving" that war works in the "struggle against the Israeli entity," and have hailed the conference as a victory in the PR war against Israel.

But the declarations have not prevented global powers from taking the bait of legitimacy, according to AFP, and pledging money to Hamas and to the Palestinian Authority (PA).

UN chief Ban Ki-moon told the donor conference Sunday that he would visit the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. "I will visit Gaza on Tuesday to listen directly to the people of Gaza," he said, adding he would also visit Israel "shortly."

"Gaza remains a tinderbox, the people desperately need to see results in their daily lives," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon insisted Sunday.

The US, meanwhile, unveiled $212 million in aid to help Gaza, after pledging $47 million already in July.

"The people of Gaza do need our help, desperately, not tomorrow, not next week, they need it now," US Secretary of State John Kerry declared.

Agenda machine

Others, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, used the conference to push their agenda for the Middle East.

"I call on the Israeli people and the government: now is the time to end the conflict... so that prosperity prevails, so that we all can have peace and security," Sisi said, urging for a renewal to peace talks in his opening remarks.

Kerry also pushed for peace talks. "Ceasefire is not peace. We got to get back to the table and help people make tough choices, real choices ... choices about more than just a ceasefire."

"I say clearly and with deep conviction here today that the United States remains fully, totally committed to returning to negotiations not for the sake of it but because the goal of this conference and the future of the region demand it," he continued.

Washington is committed to a so-called "two-state solution" under which Israel and a future Palestinian state would live side-by-side.

"I don't think there is any person here who wants to come yet again to rebuild Gaza only to think that two years from now, or less, we are going to be back at the same table talking of rebuilding Gaza because the fundamental issues have not been dealt with," Kerry said. "In the end we all want the same things. Security for the Israelis, freedom, dignity and a state for the Palestinians, peace and prosperity for both peoples."

As usual, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas pleaded for support.

"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 pleaded. He neglected to mention that Hamas began each war by launching thousands of rockets on Israeli civilians.

"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 UN Security Council resolution to set a deadline to end the occupation."

'Please, sir, we want some more'

The Palestinian "unity government," as well as the UN, have already asked for an unprecedented $5.6 billion in aid to "rebuild Gaza."

However, confidence in a true "rebuilding of Gaza," is waning, one diplomat revealed Friday, noting that, due to Hamas's constant wars, and statistics proving that it does not actually rebuild civilian areas, the campaign is suffering from "donor fatigue."

"We have seen infrastructure projects that we have contributed to which have been destroyed," the diplomat said, adding that skepticism had existed even before the recent conflict.

Ample evidence has proven that Hamas uses UN and other aid money, as well as materials, to build terror tunnels into Israeli territory with the aim of attacking Israeli citizens, instead of providing buildings to its own citizens.

As such, Israeli officials continued to defend the right to defend itself, in remarks to the Israeli press as the conference unfolded.

"Gaza cannot be rebuilt without the cooperation and participation of Israel," Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman warned, in an interview with Yediot Aharonot.  Only then, he said, would it be "receptive" to plans for "the reconstruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza," adding that calls to renew peace talks would be a "waste of time" if they are "only going to deal with the demands of the Palestinians."



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