Norway foreign minister: USD 5.4B pledged for Gaza

A donor conference in Cairo to raise money to rebuild the Gaza Strip after this year's war between Hamas and Israel ended with pledges of USD 5.4 billion for reconstruction there, Norway's foreign minister said on Sunday.

Cairo: A donor conference in Cairo to raise money to rebuild the Gaza Strip after this year's war between Hamas and Israel ended with pledges of USD 5.4 billion for reconstruction there, Norway's foreign minister said on Sunday.

Egyptian state television quoted Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende as offering the figure at the end of Sunday's one-day conference.

That's far beyond the USD 4 billion initially sought by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Qatar pledged USD 1 billion toward the reconstruction, once again using its vast wealth to reinforce its role as a regional player as Gulf Arab rival the United Arab Emirates promised USD 200 million.

The pledges followed US Secretary of State John Kerry earlier announcing immediate American assistance of USD 212 million.

The European Union pledged USD 568 million, while Turkey, which has been playing a growing role in the Middle East in recent years, said it was donating USD 200 million.

Delegates representing some 50 nations and 20 regional and international organizations applauded the pledge by Qatar, a tiny but energy-rich Gulf Arab nation at odds with its larger neighbors, like the Emirates.

The Emirates, like regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia, alleges that Qatar uses its massive wealth to undermine regional stability, primarily through meddling in other nations' affairs and aiding militant Islamic groups like Gaza's Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Arab world's oldest Islamist group with branches across much of the region.

Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah, in announcing his country's pledge, denounced the "international silence" that surrounded Gaza's destruction.

"While the Palestinian people need financial support, they need more political support from the international community," he said.

"A just peace is the only real guarantee for not destroying what we are about to rebuild and reconstruct."

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