Mideast: Hefty donations pledged for Gaza reconstruction

5.4 bln dollars promised in Cairo. Mogherini, talks to restart

13 October, 13:45

    Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed in the Gaza Strip during the last war with Israel Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed in the Gaza Strip during the last war with Israel

    (by Claudio Accogli) (ANSAmed) - CAIRO - Dollars will be pouring over Gaza after the bloody war with Israel. International donors have pledged 5.4 billion dollars at a conference in Cairo attended by 50 including foreign ministers and representatives of international organizations. The latest war this summer claimed the lives of over 2,200 Palestinians and 73 Israelis, destroyed tens of thousands of homes and ravaged the Palestinian economy, from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

    Four billion dollars are necessary for reconstruction efforts: the international community has pledged 5.4 billion, including Qatar - which has promised to give one billion - along with other Arab countries, the European Union and the US, among largest donors.

    Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini warned from the Egyptian capital that ''it is necessary to also send out a political message'' because the status quo of a decade-long conflict is not acceptable anymore. ''We are risking a new war, even in the coming months'', she warned, stressing that the international community must have a leading role in the peace process and not just through donations.

    The minister had several bilateral meetings with, among others, Palestinian President Abu Mazen, the representative of the Quartet for the Middle East, Tony Blair, the secretary-general of the Arab League Nabil Arabi and the Egyptian and Swedish foreign ministers.

    Italy's role is reportedly highly appreciated at an international level - Mogherini co-chaired the Conference - and Rome is considered a capital which is more aware of the situation than others.

    Leading officials in Cairo, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, agreed on the need for Palestinians and Israelis to resume talks, starting from the ceasefire accord forged on August 26. Other key issues include pre-accords on the opening crossings, circulation of means and people and infrastructural work.

    ''The Gaza Strip has known three wars, has suffered huge destruction and paid a high price in blood'', said Abu Mazen.

    Israel's violence ''cannot be tolerated anymore'', he warned, calling for the ''end of Palestine's occupation''.

    The issue was also discussed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi who asked Israel in the morning to ''end the conflict with the Palestinian people''.

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Gaza is still a ''powder keg'', recalling not just the destruction suffered by Israel but also the indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel. The peace process, he explained, must include an international investigation on possible war crimes committed by the two sides in the conflict.

    Ban is scheduled to travel to Jerusalem on Monday and to the Strip on Tuesday.

    The UN secretary general must now convince the most recalcitrant Israeli sectors. Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman stressed that the absence of his country at the conference ''does not contribute to a serious discussion''. But Premier Benyamin Netanyahu, according to Haaretz, does not agree and has accepted the Egyptian request for Israel not to be in Cairo. In this context, the possibility that the PNA will ask to postpone till January discussion on a motion at the UN Security Council on the end of occupation cannot be ruled out. This could happen both because it does not currently have the votes needed for its approval and because new scenarios for a possible peace have opened up in Cairo.(ANSAmed).

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