Monday, February 23, 2009

U.S. Pledges $900 Million in Aid to Gaza

The total cost of the destruction of the war in Gaza was estimated initially at $1.9 billion (see the Global Understanding 19 January 2009 report). Now the U.S. is proposing picking up about half the cost of rebuilding via direct aid to the people of the devastated territory.

The U.S. must balance its involvement carefully. It must avoid fomenting anti-U.S. sentiment and touching off more unrest in the region. It must avoid antagonizing the Hamas-led local government, which will be made even more complex because the U.S. will not allow the donated funds to be handled by the Hamas government. It may stand accused of working as a collaborator with Israel for the political-economic control of the area.

Other Arab nations are also donating funds. Saudi Arabia is putting in $1 billion. Qatar is donating $250 million, and added another $30 million to U.N. projects in Gaza.

This puts the total pledged contributions to rebuild Gaza from three donors alone at over the recent estimations of damages: $1 billion (Saudi Arabia) + $900 m (U.S.) + $250 m (Qatar) = $2.15 billion pledges vs. $1.9 billion damages.

However, such pledges still need to be approved by the U.S. Congress, which is faced with a gigantic U.S. deficit and a local economic crisis of its own to deal with.

Financial aid may or may not be welcomed. It may or may not be siezed or diverted from its intended use. Many variables remain between the proverbial road paved with good intentions and the creation of actual paved roads.

Lastly, it must be recognized that any amount of economic contribution cannot ever directly heal the psychic traumas suffered by the population, fully heal the crippled and wounded, or raise the dead. There will be animosities, distrusts, and underminings of efforts for years to come. Such pains and hard hearts will be require time for any deep trust and for a lasting truce to build.

No comments:

Post a Comment