Monday 19 January 2009

EU says Gaza reconstruction won't happen under Hamas rule

Welcome and long overdue clarity from the European Commission

"A senior European Union official said Monday that she expected humanitarian aid to Gaza to flow quickly, but signaled that reconstruction of buildings and infrastructure would only begin when the EU has an acceptable Palestinian partner.

Visiting EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner did not explicitly single out Hamas, but she strongly hinted that it would be difficult to rebuild Gaza as long as the Islamic movement remains opposed to international peace efforts.

"For reconstruction you also need on the other side an interlocutor, so how will this be done? Is there a reconciliation process in the meantime? What will be done? All that is open," she said
She also said that Hamas's confrontation with Israel was hindering prospects for a better life for the people of Gaza.

"We don't want to go on to reconstruct Gaza every I-don't-know-how-many-years," she said. "This is not what we want. What we would like to see is a clear sustainable peace."

Ferrero-Waldner's assessment came a day after Israel halted its three-week military offensive in Gaza aimed at ending years of Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel. A massive Israeli bombardment from land, sea and air left damage to homes, public buildings and utility lines valued by Palestinian surveyors at more than $1.4 billion.

Europe has traditionally been a leading contributor of aid to the Palestinians. But Ferrero-Waldner urged the Palestinian public to demand peace from its leaders.

"We have been at the side of the Palestinian population always and we will be at their side, but at the same time it's also for the Palestinian population on both sides to say, 'We want this peace,"' she said.

"We know that many people have been killed and we felt terribly sorry. We don't want to see civilians killed but at the same time the population has to decide if it wants to go to peace."
Ferrero-Waldner spoke a day after European leaders visited Egypt and Israel to pledge support for measures to stop Hamas from rearming and to turn a fragile cease-fire into a durable peace.

She suggested a rapprochement that returns Fatah to Gaza could be key to arranging international help. (...)"

Source: TJP

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