Sunday, March 1, 2009

Abbas Insists on Leading Gaza Rebuilding

Middle East Online, February 28, 2009 - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Saturday insisted his government should spearhead postwar reconstruction efforts in the Gaza Strip days before a major international donors' conference. But although his Fatah party has relaunched reconciliation talks with the democratically elected Hamas movement in Gaza, the region's political standoffs could leave such efforts stillborn regardless of how much money is pledged.

"We expect rapid international aid from all parties to completely rebuild Gaza," Abbas told reporters after meeting the European Union's top diplomat Javier Solana in the Israeli-occupied West Bank town of Ramallah.

"We also expect that as in the past there will be one mechanism, the Palestinian Authority," he said, referring to his government, which was ousted from Gaza when Hamas seized power there in June 2007.

The Palestinian Authority and the Hamas have each insisted on leading the rebuilding effort, but Western countries have said they will work only with Abbas.

"I would like to insist in agreement with the president that the mechanism used to deploy the money is the one that represents the Palestinian Authority," Solana said. "I don't think there is a need for new mechanisms."

The Palestinian Authority has said it will request 2.8 billion dollars at a meeting on Monday in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, which is expected to draw representatives from more than 70 countries....

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