CAIRO (AP) – Qatar pledged $1 billion Sunday toward the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip after this year’s devastating Israel-Hamas war, once again using its vast wealth to reinforce its role as a regional player as Gulf Arab rival the United Arab Emirates promised $200 million.
The pledges followed US Secretary of State John Kerry earlier announcing immediate American assistance of $212 million, though Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said Gaza needs $4 billion to rebuild.
The promises came during a one-day conference on the reconstruction of Gaza in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. Delegates representing some 50 nations and 20 regional and international organisations applauded the pledge by Qatar, a tiny but energy-rich Gulf Arab nation at odds with its larger neighbours, 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 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.”