Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Egyptian president opens Gaza conference

An international donors' meeting, from which Hamas is excluded, is expected to raise at least US$2.8 billion for Gaza.

The Egyptian president today opened an international donors' conference on reconstructing the war-torn Gaza Strip, meant to raise at least US$2.8 billion (Dh10.28bn) for the battered coastal area from 80 donor countries and international organisations. Hosni Mubarak addressed the gathering that included the French president Nicolas Sarkozy and the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, along with 45 foreign ministers. Gaza's Hamas government has not been invited to the conference. Among the high-profile visitors was Hillary Clinton, who is on her first trip to the Middle East as US secretary of state. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also addressed the gathering, saying he visited Gaza and saw with his "own eyes the agony of the people" there.

In his opening speech, Mr Mubarak said the "priority is to reach a truce between Israel and Palestinians" and said Egypt would continue its mediation between the two, including for a more permanent Gaza truce. "I see a momentum in peace efforts. I look forward that this year will be the year of peaceful settlement between Israelis and Palestinians," Mr Mubarak said. He added that Egypt was trying to get Israel to "modify its position on reaching a truce" - comments referring to Israel's demand that a truce be linked to the release of a captured Israeli soldier.

Mr Mubarak warned Hamas not to treat the donors' pledges as a "conquest of war" and cautioned that rebuilding Gaza following Israel's three-week offensive in January will depend on several factors, including a long-term truce and the opening up of the area's closed border crossings. He called on Palestinian factions to work toward reconciliation and forming a unity government to oversee the rebuilding.

Taking the stand, Mr Sarkozy urged "responsible Palestinians" to seek peace with Israel - and said the release of the captured "Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit in exchange for Palestinian prisoners is a priority." "You must admit that there is no other road to the creation of a Palestinian state but to engage resolutely in searching for a political solution and engage in a dialogue with Israel," Mr Sarkozy said in a clear message to the militant group.

Hamas wrested control of Gaza from Abbas' forces in June 2007 before calling an election. Since then a border blockade of the territory has been put in place by Israel and Egypt. Mr Abbas' prime minister, Salam Fayyad, has prepared a 53-page reconstruction plan for the donors, including detailed damage assessments.

Mr Fayyad said that with open borders and sufficient aid, reconstruction could begin in six weeks. He wants most of the aid to be funneled through his West Bank-based government. He already administers huge sums of foreign aid - $7.7 billion for 2008-2010 - and has been sending $120 million to Gaza each month for welfare and salaries of Mr Abbas' former civil servants. Other aid, such as for rebuilding homes, would go directly to the bank accounts of Gazans.

Mrs Clinton carried the pledge of about $300 million in humanitarian aid for the war-torn Gaza Strip. She also was to announce about $600 million in assistance to the Palestinian Authority. The Obama administration is casting its contributions as a calculated effort to ensure that the money does not reach Hamas, which is viewed by Washington as a terrorist organisation and not a legitimate governing body.

* AP

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 The Doha-based Youssef Al Qaradawi speaks to the crowd as he leads Friday prayers in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt in February, 2011. The outspoken pro-Muslim Brotherhood imam has been critical of the UAE’s policies toward Islamist groups, adding to friction between Qatar and other GCC states. Khalil Hamra / AP Photo

Brotherhood imam skips Doha sermon, but more needed for GCC to reconcile

That Youssef Al Qaradawi did not speak raises hopes that the spat involving Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain might be slowly moving towards a resolution.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 An Afghan election commission worker carries a ballot box at a vote counting centre in Jalalabad on April 6. A roadside bomb hit a truck carrying full ballot boxes in northern Afghanistan, killing three people a day after the country voted for a successor to President Hamid Karzai. Eight boxes of votes were destroyed in the blast, which came as the three leading candidates voiced concerns about possible fraud. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP Photo

Two pressing questions for Afghanistan’s future president

Once in office, the next Afghan president must move fast to address important questions that will decide the immediate future of the country.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Supporters of Turkey's ruling AKP cheer as they follow the election's results in front of the party's headquarters in Ankara on March 30. Adem Altan/ AFP Photo

Erdogan critic fears retaliation if he returns to Turkey

Emre Uslu is a staunch critic of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, with a mass crackdown on opposition expected, he is unsure when he can return home.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National