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Middle east

$2.8 billion sought to rebuild Gaza

Latest update : 2009-02-25

The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank says it has prepared a document foreseeing 2.8 billion dollars in aid required to rebuild the war-stricken Gaza Strip. More than 70 countries are expected to attend a donor conference in Egypt on March 2.

AFP - The Palestinian Authority will seek 2.8 billion dollars in aid at next week's conference in Egypt on rebuilding Gaza, Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad said on Wednesday.
   
"We have prepared a document on the basis of which donors will make their aid pledges. It foresees a total of 2.8 billion dollars for all sectors," he said in Ramallah, the political capital of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
   
"This document was prepared by the Palestinian Authority with the participation of all concerned parties and contains, in addition to the required aid, mechanisms that will allow donors to start reconstruction."
   
More than 70 countries are expected at the March 2 meeting in Egypt, which has also has been mediating a consolidation of the Gaza truce after Hamas and Israel declared on January 18 their own ceasefires to end a 22-day war that killed more than 1,300 Palestinians.
   
Sporadic attacks have continued on both sides since and Israel has linked any truce and the lifting of its blockade on the impoverished Palestinian territory to the release of a soldier seized by militants in June 2006.
   
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will attend the Gaza conference, is pressing Israel to stop blocking aid to the besieged territory, an Israeli newspaper reported on Wednesday.
   
US Middle East envoy George Mitchell is expected to issue a strongly worded statement on the situation when he travels to Israel this week, Haaretz said.
   
Clinton has relayed messages to Israel about the aid issue in the past week, and senior aides have made it clear the question would be central to her visit to Israel next week.
   
Israel insists it will not reopen its crossing points into Gaza until Hamas releases Gilad Shalit, a soldier captured by Palestinian militants in a deadly cross-border raid from Gaza in June 2006.
   
The Gaza Strip has been under a tight Israeli blockade since Hamas seized power in June 2007, ousting forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas whose powerbase is now limited to the West Bank.
   
Humanitarian agencies have repeatedly called for full access to the Gaza Strip.
   
"In the aftermath of the Israeli military operation, it is critical that full and unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza be granted by all parties to the conflict," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.
   
"International agencies have faced unprecedented denial of access to Gaza since 5 November. Humanitarian access needs to be granted without restriction," OCHA said in its latest weekly report on Gaza.

Date created : 2009-02-25

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