Representatives from dozens of countries met in Egypt’s capital Cairo yesterday and agreed to exceed the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) request for funding the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip following Operation Protective Edge.
This summer’s 50-day conflict, a response to persistent Gaza rocket fire on Israeli population centres, caused widespread damage in Gaza. As a result, international donors yesterday pledged a total of £3.2 billion to aid Gaza’s recovery after PA leaders last week requested £2.5 billion. Borge Brende, Foreign Minister of Norway, which co-hosted the gathering said that half the money would go towards rebuilding Gaza, the remainder to “the daily needs of the Palestinian people.”
Qatar was the largest donor, pledging £620 million, while the UK committed £20 million to fund disposal of unexploded ordnance, rubble clearance programmes and reconstructive surgery. International Development Minister Desmond Swayne commented that it is “not an option” for Gaza to rely on international aid and that, “It is critical that reconstruction efforts now form part of a process of meaningful political change.” Swayne highlighted recent cooperation between Israel, the PA and the United Nations to facilitate the entry of building materials into Gaza as an example of such progress.
Meanwhile, in Cairo yesterday, US Secretary of State John Kerry called for the conference to trigger “a renewed commitment from everybody to work for peace that meets the aspirations of all, for Israelis, for Palestinians, for all people of this region.” He promised “the full commitment of President Obama, myself and the US to do that.” Kerry spearheaded peace talks which collapsed earlier this year after the PA agreed a unity government in partnership with Hamas.
Israel was not invited to yesterday’s Cairo gathering. Senior Defence Ministry official Amos Gilad warned that the donor conference is “not an alternative to actual agreement” between Israel and the Palestinians over Gaza. Echoing similar sentiments, Transport Minister Israel Katz said that if Gaza rocket fire resumes, “everything will go down the drain.”