Qatar provides $1.0 billion assistance in Gaza…

Qatar-Gazza Aid

Qatar said on Sunday it would provide $1bn in reconstruction assistance for Gaza following a war there between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

“The State of Qatar announces its participation with an amount of $1bn for the reconstruction of Gaza,” Qatari Foreign Minister HE Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah said at a Gaza reconstruction conference in Cairo.

International donors pledged about $5.4bn in aid to the devastated Gaza Strip.

“The participants pledged approximately $5.4bn (4.3bn euros),” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende, reading out a closing statement at the conference which Norway co-hosted.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry called for a renewed commitment to achieving Middle East peace, saying a lasting deal between Israel, the Palestinians and all their neighbours could be achieved.

But prospects for a renewed peace process appeared dim as Kerry offered no specifics on how to restart negotiations in his speech to the Gaza conference.

The last round of US-brokered peace talks, presided over by Kerry, foundered in April over Israeli objections to a Palestinian political unity pact including the Islamist Hamas movement and Palestinian opposition to unremitting Israeli settlement expansion.

“Out of this conference must come not just money but 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,” Kerry told the conference.

“And I promise you the full commitment of President Obama, myself and the US to try to do that,” he said.

At the conference Kerry also announced an additional $212mn in US aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which was badly damaged during a conflict with Israel in July and August in which 2,100 Palestinians died, most of them civilians.

An estimated 18,000 homes and vital infrastructure were destroyed in the seven-week war. The Palestinians have put the cost of reconstruction at about $4bn over three years.

Gulf Arab states Kuwait and United Arab Emirates promised $200mn each.

Germany on Sunday also announced it would contribute 50mn euros ($63mn) to reconstruction efforts in Gaza.

“We can’t allow the people in Gaza to sink into despair,”German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement. The British ambassador to Egypt, John Casson, told Reuters London would provide $32mn for reconstruction.

Egypt, which brokered the current ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians in August, used the conference to renew its call for a wider Middle East peace deal based on a 2002 Arab initiative, which Israel has rejected.

“We should turn this moment into a real starting point to achieve a peace that secures stability and flourishing and renders the dream of coexistence a reality, and this is the vision of the Arab peace initiative,” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in his opening speech.

Also speaking in Cairo, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said the 2002 Arab plan could be the framework for a new comprehensive approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Source: Gulf Times