Feb 25/09. The
rival Palestinian governments — U.S.-backed moderates in the West Bank
and the Islamic militants of Hamas in
Gaza — presented competing plans
Wednesday for rebuilding war-ravaged Gaza, each seeking roughly $2.8
billion in foreign aid.
The moderates, led
by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas,
believe they can raise the full amount at an
international donors conference for Gaza next week in Egypt. The
U.S. is expected to contribute about $900 million, and
Saudi Arabia has promised $1
However, Gaza would
need open borders and an internationally accepted government for
reconstruction to move forward smoothly. At the moment, it has neither.
Hamas is widely
shunned as a terrorist group, and Israel
and Egypt have kept Gaza cut off from the world since the militants
violently seized the territory in June 2007, leaving Abbas only in
control of the West Bank.
In one scenario,
Hamas and Abbas would reconcile, form a joint government and bring about
an end to the Gaza blockade. Representatives of Hamas and Abbas' Fatah
movement set a new round of reconciliation talks this week, but chances
are seen as slim because of deep distrust between them.
In the absence of a
unity deal, the rival governments have moved ahead with separate plans
for rebuilding Gaza after Israel's three-week military offensive, waged
to halt Hamas rocket fire on Israeli border
towns. The fighting killed some 1,300 Palestinians and damaged or
destroyed thousands of homes.