Thursday, February 26, 2009

Palestinians Seek $2.8 Billion for Reconstruction

On 23 February 2009, the U.S. pledged $900 million in aid to rebuild Gaza. Pooled with other top contributors, including Saudi Arabia ($1 billion) and Qatar ($250 million), would bring pledged support to the coastal strip territory to $2.15 billion.

Yet today it was announced the Palestinians are now seeking a total of $2.8 billion in foreign aid for reconstruction. This assessment is up by nearly 50% from initial estimated damages of $1.9 billion.

Because certain international donors will not deal with Hamas directly, it is likely that aid may be channeled through the Fatah government instead. Thus, the aid donations are being used as a “carrot” to get the two different Palestinian regimes cooperating with each other.

The strategy seems to be succeeding. At least initially. Hamas and Fatah are working to repair rifts between each other. Mutual recriminations are, for now, mostly on hold. Fatah made a goodwill gesture by freeing 42 Hamas loyalists. In response, Hamas leader Izzat Rashaq threatened that Fatah should release more or, “it will turn into a bomb that would explode in the face of Palestinian-Palestinian talks.”

The distrust still runs deep and dangerous. Fatah accuses Hamas of killing and imprisoning dozens of its loyalists during the battles with Israel. Hamas accuses Fatah of acting as spies, feeding Israel information about Hamas positions during the war. Yet for now, even media attacks against each other have been called off.

Meetings today between Fatah and Hamas will determine whether there will be a unity government formed to deal with the crisis.

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