Region | Palestine

Hamas-run Gaza will see little of $7.4b aid pledged

Hamas-ruled Gaza will likely see little of the unprecedented $7.4 billion (about Dh27 billion) in aid promised to the Palestinians by the international community.

  • AP
  • Published: 22:19 December 18, 2007
  • Gulf News

Paris: Hamas-ruled Gaza will likely see little of the unprecedented $7.4 billion (about Dh27 billion) in aid promised to the Palestinians by the international community.

While donor countries say they will not ignore the growing suffering in that isolated territory, they do not seem eager to channel large sums there that could inadvertently help prolong Hamas rule.

Still, the Islamic fighters, pushed further into a corner, could emerge as perhaps the biggest spoiler of the renewed Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking that the economic aid is meant to buttress.

The angry reaction by Hamas officials on Monday indicated Gaza's cash-strapped rulers were rattled by the huge amounts promised to their rival, moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Humanitarian situation

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denounced the Paris conference as a "declaration of war" on Hamas, while Hamas government spokesman Taher Nunu accused the international community of trying to bribe Abbas into making concessions in negotiations with Israel.

Participants of the pledging conference avoided clear answers on what to do about Gaza, which has been cut off from the world since the violent Hamas takeover in June.

Most expressed concern about the humanitarian situation, which has deteriorated sharply since Israel and Egypt virtually halted access to Gaza after the Hamas takeover.

However, most speakers did not call for a lifting of the blockade of Gaza, even as they urged Israel to ease restrictions on Palestinian movement, presumably in the Abbas-controlled West Bank.

Without calling openly for regime change, Western leaders have suggested that once the residents of Gaza see the benefits of peace, they would become increasingly disillusioned with Hamas.

"In the end, if we get a strong process moving forward, I believe that all the Palestinian people will want to participate in a process leading to their own state," international Mideast envoy Tony Blair said on Monday, outlining his Gaza scenario.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad emphasised that his three-year economic recovery plan, for which he received the aid, also includes Gaza. However, many of the development projects earmarked for Gaza would likely have to be put on hold until the blockade is lifted.

In the meantime, some donor money would reach Gaza through continued salary payments to some 50,000 Abbas-allied civil servants who have stayed at home since the takeover, rather than work for Hamas.

Also, the donors have been funding international aid agencies that try to alleviate suffering, including with food distributions.

Naji Shurrab, a political analyst in Gaza, said that "it's very clear that Gaza has been dropped from the [aid] plans, or at least has been postponed." "This is a form of punishment for Hamas," he added.

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