Billions pledged for Gaza at donor conference

Published October 13th, 2014 - 04:00 GMT

The United States announced Sunday that it will contribute USD 212 million for reconstructing Gaza Strip after the devastating Israeli-war on the Palestinian enclave.

"The people of Gaza do need our help, desperately, not tomorrow, not next week, they need it now," US Secretary of State John Kerry said at Cairo International Conference on Palestine and Reconstructing Gaza, announcing that his country pledges an aid package worth USD 212 million to Gaza rebuilding.

He called for a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to reach lasting stability.

For her part, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton called for unconditional support to the Palestinians and for Israel to lift restrictions on construction and development in the Strip. The 1.5 million people who are living in Gaza, including women and children, should not pay the price for the absence of a political solution to the conflict, she said.

Ashton noted that the EU is the world's largest contributor to Gaza aid, with 1.3 billion euros donated in recent years. She announced five million euros donation for an ambitious project to employ over 16,000 people in Gaza.

Qatar topped all pledges by promising 1 billion dollars for Gaza reconstruction. 

Earlier, Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al-Araby urged the world to shoulder its responsibility towards Palestinian government and people. He called for concerted efforts to reach a lasting peace and end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

The conference is being attended by more than 30 foreign ministers under joint Egyptian-Norwegian leadership.

More than 50 national delegations and around 20 representatives from regional and international organizations are present. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, US Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and EU foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton are also in attendance.

The Palestinian Authority has called for more than USD 4 billion in aid to rebuild Gaza's infrastructure and provide humanitarian relief to the blockaded coastal territory.

A 51-day devastating Israeli offensive on Gaza, which ended on August 26, left nearly 2,200 Palestinians dead and over 12,000 wounded. It has also destroyed totally or partially thousands of homes and public facilities in the Strip leaving over 100,000 Gazans homeless.

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