Monday, January 19, 2009

Power Struggle Over Gaza Reconstruction Aid Intensifies

Financial Times, January 19, 2009 - Arab governments have already pledged at least $1.25bn (€940m, £850m) for Gaza, and European leaders have also promised aid.

But Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, on Monday warned donors not to provide reconstruction aid directly to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, claiming such a move would scupper any chance of Palestinian unity....

The situation is further complicated by Israel, which controls most crossings into Gaza and has the power to stop shipments of construction materials and other supplies. A memo written and distributed by western diplomats, and obtained by the FT, suggests Israel wants “project by project” approval and guarantees that United Nations’ projects do not benefit Hamas.

“The general atmosphere is of extreme frustration and a sense of not knowing how to be able to manoeuvre effectively within these conflicting pressures. Israelis want basically full control, de-facto control on the ground is Hamas’, and add to that layer the Palestinian Authority’s unwillingness to co-operate with anything it is not leading,” a western aid official said, adding that people were “in a very confused state”....

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