After Israel’s defensive war this summer against Hamas, the world as usual is in a great hurry to help the Palestinians reconstruct the damage to Gaza, and no matter how much Mahmoud Abbas promises to be transparent in the handling of the aid funds (please excuse my hysterical laughter here) it will be no surprise if we discover in the not too distant future that those funds were not used to rebuild homes, hospitals, schools and civilian infrastructure but instead to replenish Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s stores of weapons and to import the massive amounts of cement needed to build their terror attack tunnels.
Israel was not invited to the donor conference held yesterday in Cairo, which may or may not have been a good thing. On the one hand Israel could not be asked to contribute to the rebuilding of its enemy, but on the other hand Israel failed to link aid for reconstruction to the disarmament of Hamas.
An Israeli official was quoted by Channel 2 admitting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that Hamas give up its arms — endorsed in principle by the US, EU and others at the end of the 50-day conflict — had not prevailed as a condition for overseas funding to rehabilitate Gaza. The funding for reconstruction, the official said, would flow so long as the ceasefire was maintained. Further development of Gaza after such reconstruction, the official said, would be contingent on the demilitarization of the Strip.
Israeli officials noted that a mechanism had been agreed, with UN involvement, to ensure that international funding not be diverted to finance the rebuilding of Hamas’s military capabilities. But sources quoted by Channel 10 expressed concern that such a mechanism would not hold firm, and the same TV report quoted sources in Gaza as saying there was no practical way to control how such money would be spent. The head of the Israeli Air Force’s Air Defense Command told The Times of Israel last week that Hamas has resumed rocket manufacturing in Gaza.
Other officials in Jerusalem variously claimed that Israel was not invited because it was not donating any funds, and that Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi had opted to not extend an invitation because Israel’s presence could have prompted other states to stay away.
Ban Ki-Moon spouted his usual distorted view of the Israel-Palestinian conflict:
“We must not lose sight of the root causes of the recent hostilities: A restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who later announced in a news conference that he planned to visit Israel, Gaza and the West Bank on Tuesday.
Ban needs an urgent lesson in modern history; he should read up on Israel’s disengagement from Gaza – there is no occupation! – and on the multiple offers of peace and land withdrawals made by Israel, all of which were rejected by the Palestinians who then ignited huge waves of violence each time. The man is a disgrace.
International envoys pledged about $5.4 billion in aid for the Gaza Strip at a meeting in Egypt on Sunday, Norway’s foreign minister said.
…Half of the pledges will go for reconstruction and the rest as unspecified aid to the Palestinians, he said…
Gas-rich Qatar led the way at the donors conference in Cairo with a promise of $1 billion in aid to the coastal enclave.
The Palestinians asked for up to $4 billion in international aid after Gaza suffered heavy damage in its 50-day summer war with Israel.
Note that no one has considered the damage suffered by Israel – through no fault of its own – from that same war.
The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait also pledged $200 million each.
US Secretary of State John Kerry announced immediate US assistance of $212 million as the conference began.
British International Development Minister Desmond Swayne pledged $32.1 million in early recovery assistance for Gazans affected by the war. The money will cover disposal of un-exploded ordnance, rubble clearing and reconstructive surgery, according to a statement released by the British government.
The statement said that the UK is ready to provide longer term support, but only if the situation changes in Gaza, and the conditions do not invite another conflict.
“Simply relying on international donors to continue to pick up the pieces is not an option,” warned Swayne. “The cycle of conflict and emergency aid is unsustainable. The need for bold political steps from all parties has never been more apparent.
It is mildly gratifying to note that the British are not simply throwing the money at Gaza but are looking for a political solution first and foremost.
Sadly the British are cancelling out this small amount of common sense by the UK Parliament holding a debate tomorrow on whether to recognize “the State of Paletsine”. Labour Party MPs are furious at the party leader Ed Milliband’s decision to “whip” the vote (forcing them all to vote in favour), and are threatening to boycott the vote. Even though the vote is only symbolic it will be interesting to see how the votes swing – and how Ed Milliband’s political fortunes swing too in the aftermath of this unnecessary altercation.
This could also be a case of wishing to distract from domestic woes. As Amotz Asa-El pointed out in the Jerusalem Post about a similar vote taken by Sweden:
“Unable to affect the domestic scene, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven fled to a foreign affair where talk is cheap and responsibility is everyone else’s except his.”
Getting back to the funding crisis, the world is only too keen to throw money at the undeserving Palestinian terrorists, whereas desperately needed funds to fight Ebola are still lacking. $1bn have been pledged – curiously an amount identical to that which Qatar has promised to help Gaza – but most of that money has not been actually forthcoming.
The World Health Organization said Tuesday that nearly $1 billion will be required to fight Ebola, but less than one-fifth of that amount has actually been funded.
As of Wednesday, roughly $155 million has so far been delivered, with funds coming from countries, global agencies, private companies, individuals and other entities, according to data collected by the Financial Tracking Service (FTS), which records all reported international humanitarian aid.
According to FTS’s most recent data, another $183.5 million has been pledged — meaning the donations have been promised but not yet delivered — and on Tuesday, the Obama Administration committed an additional $500 million. If every dollar pledged so far is delivered, $838 million will have been donated to fight the ongoing Ebola crisis.
Just imagine if the world were to require the Palestinians, and primarily Hamas and its Arab supporters, to act like grown-ups and fund their own reconstruction, just like Israel does, thus freeing up those billions of dollars to fight the ever-growing plague of Ebola.
What? Palestinians helping themselves?? Perish the thought!