Middle East News

Donors Pledge $5.4 Billion Aid To Gaza

International aid donors on Sunday pledged more than $5 billion to rebuild the war-torn Gaza Strip but warned Israel and Palestine that it will be the last time they will grant funds, urging the two parties to resolve the longstanding dispute through diplomatic means.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende, who co-chaired the one-day conference in Egypt, said countries pledged a total of $5.4 billion, but only $2.7 billion of it would be allocated to the reconstruction of Gaza, Haaretz reported. The rest would serve as the budget of the Palestinian Authority until 2017.

Qatar’s donated $1-billion, which boosted the amount, but it is less than the $8.5 billion amount that Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, proposed to donor states. Western countries noted that contributions could still grow as other international organizations like the United Nations make pledges The New York Times reported.

Brende warned that Europe’s patience is wearing thin with the seemingly endless war against the two sides.

“It’s understandable for donors and taxpayers alike to ask why taxpayers should pick up the bill for what warring parties have torn down,” he said.

But doing nothing now, he added, “is the surest way of setting us up for another war a year or two down the road”, The Washington Post reported.

The U.S. pledged a total of $400 million to Palestine, $100 million of which would go to boost the Palestinian Authority budget and $37 million would go toward Palestinian Authority institutions, while $75 million would go to relief efforts.

“The people of Gaza do need our help, desperately — not tomorrow, not next week, but they need it now,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.

Israel attacked Gaza by land and air in the eight-week conflict that erupted in July. More than 2,000 people were killed, roughly 70 percent of them were civilians, the United Nations said. More than 18,000 houses and buildings were destroyed, causing 100,000 people to be homeless. There are still 40,000 people living at 19 U.N. shelters.

It is the third war and reconstruction effort between Israel and Gaza in six years.

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