Palestine's Abbas gives $600 mln to Gaza reconstruction

Fayyad said his government would contribute $50 million of its own money to the United Nations to assist Gazans.

Palestine's Abbas gives $600 mln to Gaza reconstruction
The government of Western-back Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Wednesday a $600 million reconstruction programme for the war-battered Gaza Strip.

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who heads Abbas's West Bank-based government, said the programme would cover all Palestinian houses destroyed or damaged during Israel's 22-day military offensive in the Hamas-ruled enclave.

Israel launched on Dec. 27 a massive offensive in Gaza, killing more than 1300 Palestinians, a third of them children, and wounded at least 5300.

Israel targeted hospitals, schools, mosques and government buildings and destroyed infrastructure system in Gaza, lefting Palestinians without electricity, gas and power.

"The amount of the project is $600 million. Most of it will come from donors," Fayyad said in a speech in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He said further details would be announced later.

Fayyad said his government would contribute $50 million of its own money to the United Nations to assist Gazans.

Egypt is to host an international conference on March 2 on Gaza reconstruction, in coordination with the Palestinian Authority. The cost of renewal is estimated at $2 billion.

It is unclear how soon reconstruction will get under way because of Israel's blockade on building supplies and also ongoing air strikes into Gaza Strip.

Hamas has announced its own plans to spearhead Gaza's post-war reconstruction and has promised to pay each family whose home was destroyed some $5,000.

Israel has also prevented Abbas's government from transferring cash from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip to pay the tens of thousands of Palestinians on its payroll, casting doubt on Fayyad's ability to carry out any reconstruction there.

Israel has refused to let in the 237 million shekels ($58 million) requested by Abbas's government to pay Gaza salaries, Palestinian and Western officials said.

As a result, Fayyad said salary payments to Palestinian Authority employees would be delayed by two weeks.

Fayyad put the Palestinian Authority's 2009 budget at $3.2 billion, up from $2.8 billion the year before, with almost half of it going to government salaries.

He added that foreign aid for running costs would likely be less than the $1.76 billion received in 2008.

Reuters
Last Mod: 05 Şubat 2009, 12:13
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