Monday, March 02, 2009 
11:21  Mecca time, 08:21  GMT     
News Middle East  
Donors discuss rebuilding Gaza   
Conditions will be attached to the $300m Hillary Clinton is set to hand over 
for Gaza [AFP]    International
donors meeting in Egypt are expected to pledge billions of dollars to
rebuild the Gaza Strip after it was battered during Israel's 22-day
offensive earlier this year.

Ahead of Tuesday's conference in
Sharm el-Sheikh, the US state department announced that Washington
would contribute $300m to meet "urgent" humanitarian needs in Gaza. Up
to 75 countries and international organisations are being asked to fund
a $2.8bn reconstruction plan designed by Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian
prime minister, who wants a large part of the money to be channelled
through the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.

It remains
unclear though how the planned reconstruction of Gaza will be
undertaken. The territory is controlled by Hamas and Israel has said it
will refuse to approve projects that could benefit the group.
took full control of Gaza in June 2007 after driving out security
forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president and
leader of the rival Fatah group.
Israel's blockade of the territory continues to prevent supplies, including 
construction materials, from crossing into Gaza.

which has not been invited to the conference in Egypt and is labelled a
"terrorist" group by the US and the EU, has prepared its own
reconstruction plan.

Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas official, said that he welcomed efforts to address the 
needs of the Gazans. 

hope this conference ... will be fruitful in making positive steps,
quickly and effectively, to rebuild Gaza without politicisation and
preconditions that could complicate or create obstacles," he said.

'Humanitarian concern'
Marc Gopin, from the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution
at George Mason University, told Al Jazeera that the donors' conference
was "an attempt to demonstrate humanitarian concern".
In depth 

Analysis and features from Gaza after the war 
But, he said, there was "no real addressing of the political fallout in
the long run, as to whether there's going to be reconciliation between
Fatah and Hamas and whether in fact this aid can really ever get in". 
"They can't even get in humanitarian aid at this point because the [Israeli] 
blockade is so severe."
Hillary Clinton, on her first visit to the Middle East since
becoming the US secretary of state, said on Friday that the US aid,
which will include another $600m for the Palestinian Authority, would
depend on how well the Palestinians meet conditions imposed by the
so-called Quartet of the United States, the European Union, the United
Nations and  Russia.
"I will be announcing a commitment to a significant aid package, but
it will only be spent if we determine that our goals can be furthered
rather than undermined or subverted," she told Voice of America radio.

Robert Wood, a spokesman for the US state department, said the $300m would be 
funnelled through the UN and other organisations.
"Hamas is not getting any of this money," he told reporters.

'More of the same'

Saree Makdisi, the author of Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation,
told Al Jazeera that "it sure looks like more of the same" US policy
and that there was no difference between Clinton's stance and that of
Condoleezza Rice, her predecessor.
"The most surprising thing isn't that there's no difference, it's
that there's no difference in spite of the fact that the [incoming]
Israeli government has taken an even more belligerent stand" against
the Palestinians and on honouring international law, he said.

than 1,300 Palestinians, including women and children, died during the
war on Gaza, which Israel launched with the stated aim of preventing
rocket fire from fighters based in the coastal territory.
At least 13 Israelis, three of them civilians, were also killed.
However, rocket fire has continued and Ehud Olmert, the outgoing
Israeli prime minister, on Sunday vowed a "painful" response if the
attacks on southern Israel did not stop.
The rockets "will be answered with a painful, harsh, strong and
uncompromising response from the security forces", he said at the start
of a weekly cabinet meeting.  
 Source: Al Jazeera and agencies   
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