Palestinian unity gov't and fast aid urged in EU Gaza meeting

EU External Relations Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said the European Union would like to see Israel paying for some of the damage.

Palestinian unity gov't and fast aid urged in EU Gaza meeting
Egypt urged Europe on Sunday to help with fast reconstruction aid for the Gaza Strip and to put pressure on Israel to quickly reopen border crossings.

Gazans live under heavy Israel siege for a long time and Egypt still insists on not to opening the only Gaza border crossing in a move condemned by Muslims around the world in protests, leaving Gazans desperate to digging tunnels underground and risking their lives.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said after talks with European and Palestinian counterparts in Brussels he hoped an international donors' conference could be staged for Palestinian reconstruction by Feb. 28.

He also said he hoped a united Palestinian government could be established to deal with funds raised.

"I ask the European Union to do (things) very, very quickly to rebuild to help the Palestinians to get out of this crisis," he said before the Brussels talks.

"We need to force the Israelis to negotiate and also tell them to open crossings and to give Palestinians a chance to live in a normal way," he told reporters.

Aboul Gheit said after the talks a reconstruction conference would require damage assessments and the support of the European Union, the United Nations and others.

"Reconstruction is not something that will take place overnight. It will take a certain time," he told a joint news conference with his counterparts.

"Once we have agreed on a conference and the amounts to be collected, I would imagine that by then we may well be looking towards a government of national reconciliation, a Palestinian government which would be capable of using these funds."

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the European Union would like to see Israel paying for some of the damage.

Unity government

Czech Foreign Minster Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said all agreed on the need to act swiftly and concretely to help Gaza.

He said the EU view that a "united Palestinian government led by President Mahmoud Abbas" was fundamental to progress and called for crossings to Gaza to be kept open on a regular and predictable basis.

"We can intervene as soon as the parties concerned wish," he added.

With ceasefires in place after a 22-day Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, Israel has said it would continue the heavy siege by not opening borders.

The EU has said it is ready to reactivate and expand a mission launched in 2005 to monitor the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, but says agreement on that is hampered by the split between Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah.

Israel killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, a third of them children in the 22-day military aggression on Gaza and wounded 5,300 Palestinians, and Gaza infrastructure suffered massive damage totaling some 476 million dollars, according to Palestinian medics and officials.


Agencies
Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2009, 11:08
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