Sunday, March 1, 2009

Rebuilding Gaza: World Faces Daunting Challenges

Egypt News (reporting from Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip), March 1, 2009 - The seven foul-smelling lagoons of sewage near Gaza's coast were supposed to be replaced by a globally funded waste treatment plant. Instead, they epitomize the nightmare faced by foreign donors as they seek to rebuild the territory and open a pathway to peace.

The multimillion dollar project has been delayed by violence and a 20-month-old border closure that have made it difficult to bring supplies into Gaza. Now, after Israel's devastating military offensive, clearing the lagoons is just one part of a much bigger challenge.

On Monday, some 80 donor countries meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh will be asked to pledge at least $2.8 billion in aid to Gaza.

There's plenty of good will — Saudi Arabia has already promised $1 billion and the US $900 million — and the level of representation will be stellar, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

But for reconstruction to move forward smoothly, toward pacifying Gaza and opening new horizons for Mideast peace efforts, a series of improbable events would need to happen....

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