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الأحد، 12 أكتوبر 2014

Qatar pledges $1 bn for Gaza but other donors hit with ‘fatigue’

Qatar pledges $1 bn for Gaza but other donors hit with ‘fatigue’

Western contributions have fallen since 2009 because of a sense of donor 'fatigue' say dimplomats
A Palestinian child pictured amidst the rubble in Gaza as Cairo conference tackles reconstruction (AFP)
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Qatar promised $1 bn in reconstruction aid for Gaza at a donor conference in Cairo on Sunday, topping US and European pledges for the devastated Palestinian enclave.
"Qatar announces its participation with $1 bn for the reconstruction of Gaza," said Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah, the foreign minister of the gas-rich country.
Global envoys, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, gathered in Cairo Sunday in a bid to raise billions to rebuild the devastated Gaza Strip after Israel’s deadly 51-day military offensive in the coastal enclave.
The Palestinians have been asking for $4 bn, to rebuild Gaza while the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is seeking to raise another $570 mn to meet its goal of nearly $1 bn to meet Gaza’s needs. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon will now visit Gaza on Tuesday to survey the extent of the damage and discuss the road going forward.
The US has pledged $212 mn to help rebuild the Strip, while the EU has collectively promised 450 mn euro ($570 mn).
The West’s contribution is down slightly from 2009 when the US pledged $900 mn and the EU 440 mn euros ($554 mn).
Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh warned about a shortfall in donor interest, with many countries suffering from “fatigue".
"Many countries who have been generous in their support for the Palestinians are indeed suffering from donors' fatigue, and they are right," he said, referring to repeated conflicts in Gaza.
Gaza has suffered three major conflicts in five years, with many donors worried that without a lasting peace deal between Hamas and Israel, further conflicts may well be on the horizon.
Israel and the Hamas have yet to even translate their temporary August truce into a long-term ceasefire and a State Department spokesperson on Saturday warned about Gaza eventually being lost in a “cycle of violence”. 
"We got to get back to the table and help people make tough choices, real choices ... choices about more than just a ceasefire," Kerry said. "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."
"I think it's very fair to say that there are serious questions being raised by a lot of the donors about... how best to break this cycle," a senior State Department official told reporters before Kerry left Washington.
There has to be reflection about "how best to ensure that we're not going to find ourselves back here doing the same thing again in a year or two".
A Western diplomat in Jerusalem who spoke to AFP on the condition of anonymity also said:  "We have seen infrastructure projects that we have contributed to which have been destroyed.”
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also told Israel of the urgent need for a peace deal in his opening remarks to the conference.
“I call on the Israeli people and the government: now is the time to end the conflict…so that prosperity prevails so that we can all have peace and security,” he said, at the one-day conference in Cairo chaired by Egypt and Norway.
Sisi was criticised in some quarters of colluding with Israel and Saudi Arabia in an intelligence triumvirate during the military offensive in July and August.
This summer's conflict killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, while attacks by Gaza militants killed 73 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.
It also left the densely populated enclave in ruins, displacing more than a quarter of Gaza's population of 1.7 million and leaving 100,000 people homeless.
The Palestinian government has unveiled a 76-page reconstruction plan ahead of the conference, also attended by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the conference that government institutions had been destroyed in Gaza.
“Entire neighbourhoods have been destroyed…There is a tangible need for funds to bring back government institutions because they have all been destroyed,” he said.
Abbas called on international support for a UN resolution setting a timetable to end the Israeli occupation and told delegates Israel is preventing Palestinians from “benefiting from 60 percent of West Bank lands.”
He himself has come under fire in the wake of the Gaza war, accused of blocking a Palestinian application to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).
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