Pledges for the reconstruction of Gaza have been made at an international meeting in Cairo. There were also renewed calls for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Thirty international envoys gathered in Cairo on Sunday to discuss reconstruction of the Gaza strip. Some 18,000 homes in Gaza together with major parts of the territory's infrastructure were destroyed in the seven-week conflict with Israel this summer. The Palestinians have put the full cost of reconstruction at about $4 billion (3.16 billion euros) over three years.
"The state of Qatar announces its participation with an amount of $1 billion for the reconstruction of Gaza," Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiya said at the meeting.
US Secretary of State John Kerry announced $212 million in US aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. "The people of Gaza do need our help, desperately, not tomorrow, not next week, they need it now," Kerry told the meeting.
European Union member states will contribute a total of 450 million euros ($568 million) to Gaza, the bloc's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced Germany is to contribute 50 million euros to reconstruction efforts in Gaza: "We can't allow the people in Gaza to sink into despair," he said in a statement.
Britain is to provide $32 million for reconstruction according to the country's ambassador in Cairo.
Israel was not invited to the conference but Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said any effort would need his government's consent: "Gaza cannot be rebuilt without the cooperation and participation of Israel," Lieberman told the Ynet news service. He added that Israel would be "receptive" to plans for "the reconstruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza."
Renewed peace calls
At the conference on Sunday there were also renewed calls for a peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.
"Out of this conference must come not just money but a renewed commitment from everybody to work for peace that meets the aspirations of all, for Israelis, for Palestinians for all people of this region," Kerry said. "And I promise you the full commitment of president Obama, myself and the United States to try to do that."
Egypt renewed its call for a wider Middle East peace deal based on a 2002 initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia, offering full recognition of the Jewish state, if it gave up all land seized in the 1967 Middle East war and agreed to a "just solution" for Palestinian refugees.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas also said the 2002 Arab plan could be the framework for a new comprehensive approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Israel has previously rejected this initiative.
jm/rc (Reuters, AFP)