The international community has committed billions of dollars to help reconstruction efforts in Gaza, but warned that only a political settlement would stop Israel and the Palestinians “destroying what we are about to rebuild”.
Held in Egypt and chaired by Norway, donors at Sunday’s international conference promised $2.7 billion to finance work in the war-ravaged Strip, after a 50-day war this summer that claimed more than 2,000 lives.
Qatar offered $1 billion, the European Union promised $568 million, the United States gave $212 million while both Turkey and Abu Dhabi pledged $200 million.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende said pledges of $5.4 billion had actually been made, but that only half of that money would be “dedicated” to the reconstruction of the coastal enclave.
“The message was clear to the international community that the Palestinian brothers are not alone,” said Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri.
But others said money alone was not enough. Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah led the calls for a more permanent peace and denounced the “international silence” that surrounded Gaza’s destruction.
“While the Palestinian people need financial support, they need more political support from the international community,” he said. “A just peace is the only real guarantee for not destroying what we are about to rebuild and reconstruct.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry agreed, saying: “A cease-fire is not peace. We’ve got to find a way to get back to the table and help people make the tough choices that everybody understands have been on the table for too long.”
He added: “There is nothing sustainable about the status quo.”
Analysts say that any long-term deal will likely be based on the Arab peace initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002, under which the countries of the Arab League recognise Israel in return for all land won by Israel in 1967 as well as a “just solution” for Palestinian refugees.
At the Sunday conference, this plan was again championed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
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