Norway: Gaza reconstruction aid conditioned on lifting of blockade

Oslo says funds will be given to PA President Abbas, and not to Hamas, and notes international donors conference to take place only after lasting ceasefire reached.

AFP

Published:  08.18.14, 10:23 / http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4559789,00.html

Norway has set conditions to the delivery of aid money to reconstruct the Gaza Strip after Operation Protective Edge, namely that the Israeli blockade on the Palestinian enclave is lifted, Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende said Monday. 

"We can not expect the international community to once again finance reconstruction" without preconditions, Mr. Brende wrote in a statement. 

In addition to the demand to lift the blockade, Oslo called to ensure the safety of civilians on both sides of the border. "Maintaining an enclosed population at the edge of starvation will not ensure the security of the neighbors of Gaza," Brende said.

Gaza has been devastated by weeks of Israeli attacks aimed at ending rocket fire by Hamas aimed at civilian population. The territory's already battered economy suffered billions of dollars of damage during the IDF offensive.

International donors will meet in Cairo to pledge funds for the reconstruction of Gaza as soon as a lasting ceasefire is reached between Israel and the Palestinians, Norway said.

The funds raised under the auspices of Egypt and Norway will be released to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende, whose country heads the international coordination committee for aid to the Palestinians.

According to Norway, which chairs the coordination of international assistance to the Palestinians, this is the third time in recent years that international donors are expected to fund the reconstruction of Gaza. 

The announcement of a donors' conference comes as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed talks in Cairo on Sunday through Egypt for a lasting truce in the Gaza Strip. 

The latest Israeli offensive, that started on July 8, has claimed at least 1,980 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 67 Israelis, three of them civilians.

For his part, President Abbas said Saturday night that the donor conference would take place "early next month."

"We hope that all countries attend, particularly the Arab states," he said.

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